College puts cop on course for career success

A Northumbria Police officer is on course to become an expert in critical incident psychology and management after gaining top marks in his degree at Gateshead College.

Inspector Dave McKinney has achieved a first class honours degree in leadership, management and organisation after combining the demands of working shifts as a critical incident manager at police headquarters in Ponteland with studying in his own time.

Now, following this success, he's hoping to take the next step on the path to career progression when he embarks on a masters in major and critical incident psychology at Liverpool University - the only course of its type in the UK. This is being sponsored by Northumbria Police.

Inspector McKinney, who lives in Lanchester with his wife and four children, has been a police officer for 27 years, originally joining Durham Constabulary before transferring to Northumbria in 1985.

During his time with the force, he's worked his way up from police constable to inspector and now has a key role as a critical incident manager in the Communications Department.

He manages the initial response to a range of serious incidents, including suspicious deaths, public disorder and high risk missing people.

The role requires him to assess situations quickly before deciding on the priorities and deploying initial police resources before overall responsibility for the incident is passed to an incident commander.

Although enjoying the challenge, he wanted to sharpen his ability to think more strategically to help him improve in the role and so joined the course in its second year (he'd already done an earlier foundation degree at Gateshead College).

The management focus the course teaches has not only enabled him to do this but has given him a more rounded understanding of change management, cultural, leadership and organisational issues.

Inspector McKinney said: "It's never too late to learn new skills and I wanted to do just that so that I could do my job better and improve as a manager.

"I realised that an academic qualification was required to do this and for my career progression.

"As well as being very stimulating and enjoyable, the degree course at Gateshead has equipped me with the expertise to move to the next level of academic learning.

"I am looking forward to starting the masters in incident psychology which, together with the knowledge gained on the Gateshead course, equips me well for the next stage in my career."

Mary Lindsay, assistant principal adult and higher education at Gateshead College, offered her congratulations to Inspector McKinney.

"His achievement is down to sheer determination, hard work and commitment and I'm extremely pleased that we've been able to help him take the next steps in professional development.

"He is another terrific example of someone who has returned to education in order to take their career forward in a new direction.

"This can be challenging as you need to juggle home, work and college commitments but we offer all students the help and support they need to complete their course and go onto bigger and better things."

The BA (Hons) Leadership, Management and Organisation (part-time) is validated by Teesside University. It is designed for those who are currently working in a senior administration role or management position.

The newly updated degree programme offers students a wide variety of modules providing a grounding in management knowledge and competence areas including research methods, organisational behaviour, analysis and business psychology, managing corporate strategy, leadership, managing creativity and innovation and managing change.

Those who complete the course can go on to study for a professional Institute Membership Diploma, a career in middle or senior management or a Post Graduate Teaching Certificate.

More information about the course is available at

Return to Training menu