Police chief suspended following claims of 'inappropriate behaviour'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 May 2014
THE top police officer for Somerset has been suspended following allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour' towards women.
Chief Constable Nick Gargan of Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been temporarily removed from his post while an investigation takes place.
The suspension comes after Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens called in the Independent Complaints Commission (IPCC) after being approached by several female members of staff.
Ms Mountstevens has said Mr Gargan was ‘devastated’ when told the news on Tuesday, and added that he has denied the allegations.
She said: “Following a number of serious allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards female officers and staff by the Chief Constable Nick Gargan, I have decided to refer the matter to the IPCC who will now conduct an independent investigation.
“Due to the public interest in the case and to protect the integrity of the investigation, I have decided to suspend the chief constable while the independent investigation is carried out.
“I looked long and hard for other alternatives but the IPCC advised me suspension was in the best interests of the chief and the organisation.
“I think it is important the chief constable is treated no better or worse than any other police officer who is under investigation.”
A spokesman for the watchdog said: “The IPCC has begun an independent investigation in to the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset police, Nick Gargan.
“This investigation follows a referral from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset and is into a number of serious allegations that relate to inappropriate conduct towards female members of staff at the force.”
Ms Mountstevens added: “Deputy Chief Constable John Long will act up temporarily as Chief Constable and all officers and staff have been informed of this decision.
“I would like to assure the communities of Avon and Somerset that the constabulary remains a high-performing force. Both police officers and staff are committed to ensuring the area remains a safe place to live, work and visit.”
Mr Gargan has been an officer since 1988 and was appointed to the top role in March last year, taking command of more than 5,000 officers and staff.
He did not respond to Mercury requests for an interview before the paper went to press.