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Detective travels 13,000 miles to access University’s investigation expert

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Published on 19 December 2019

Andy Burdon and Gary Shaw
Andy Burdon and Gary Shaw

A former detective and investigations expert who advised in some of the UK’s most high-profile crimes is helping a former colleague who now lives half way across the world.

Gary Shaw is currently a Professor of Investigative Practice at the University of Sunderland and widely considered as one of the key players in changing the way suspects are interviewed by police across the country.

His methods have altered the face of UK policing and now he is using his wealth of experience to help a former Northumbria Police colleague who is now working for the Royal Falkland Islands’ Police.

Detective Sergeant Andy Burdon has been at the University this week working with Gary in a bid to advance his interviewing skills, which he can then take back and share with fellow officers on the remote islands.

Gary said: “Andy is attending a series of masterclasses delivered by me concentrating on contemporary issues around Investigative Interviewing.

“Several years ago I worked with Andy investigating serious crime in the east end of Newcastle and when Andy contacted me earlier this year and asked if he could attend the University to refresh his knowledge I was more than happy to assist.

“Andy said that as he had been made aware that I was now involved in delivering bespoke learning and development programmes around investigative practice and as there were many parallels with the role he was now performing he wanted to spend a few days upskilling himself.”

From the investigation into the 2010 murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol to the 2008 disappearance of West Yorkshire schoolgirl Shannon Matthews, Gary has played a key role in advising detectives on interview techniques.

Gary joined Northumbria Police in 1977. During the course of his 41 year career, he became the National Interview Advisor, spending time at police forces across the country examining interview styles and putting into place a new strategy when it came to interviewing suspects.

Gary said: “It was about switching mind-sets from a confession-based form of interview to a more ethical technique by introducing the PEACE interview training programme.”

PEACE stands for - Planning and Preparation, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluation.

This shift would be replicated in forces across the country, ensuring that police interview techniques would go on to provide pivotal evidence in some of the country’s biggest cases.

It is these skills which Gary is now passing on to Detective Sergeant Burdon.

Det Sgt Burdon said: “I’m going to be brushing up my skills when it comes to suspect interviews, witness interviews, and victim interviews.

“I already have some understanding of the techniques as I worked with Gary years ago and learned a lot at the time.

“When I heard the University was offering the opportunity to refresh and advance these skills then I jumped at the opportunity to come over here.

“I will be able to take what I’ve learned and pass it onto colleagues back on the islands. This type of interviewing is a science and it will be incredibly useful in the type of work we are doing.”

Gary currently teaches students on the BA in Applied Investigation and MA in Investigative Management programmes.


About Gary Shaw

Gary left Northumbria’s Police in 2007 to undertake the National Investigative Interviewing Adviser role providing advice and guidance throughout the UK.

Now Gary, from Ryhope in Sunderland, is passing on his wealth of knowledge to students at the University.

“I believe in continuous development for investigators,” said Gary. “We are in a very different world compared to 15, or even 10, years ago.

“I’m keen to develop the thinking of detectives so that when they go to crime scenes they are able to make informed decisions and take as much away as possible.”

Gary joined the University’s Corporate and Professional Education team, who specialise in work-based learning. The BA in Applied Investigation offers investigators from all professions the opportunity to gain a full degree with as little as one year’s study, with just six days required on-campus.