England

Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan to face gross misconduct probe

Nick Gargan
Image caption Chief Constable Nick Gargan was suspended in May

A police chief is to face an internal charge of gross misconduct following an allegation of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan was suspended in May.

A probe by the police watchdog led to PCC Sue Mountstevens making the decision that Mr Gargan had a case to answer over the allegation.

Mr Gargan, who denies any wrongdoing, also faces an internal charge over improper disclosure of information.

'Case to answer'

He learned in June that he would not face any criminal charges.

In a statement, Ms Mountstevens said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had put forward a number of recommendations regarding Mr Gargan.

"I have made the decision there is a case to answer for gross misconduct and therefore I will refer the allegations to a misconduct hearing in front of an independent misconduct panel," she said.

"The members of the panel will decide if the allegations are proven or not and will present their recommendations to me. I will ensure that these recommendations are made public."

In Mr Gargan's absence the force has been led by Acting Chief Constable John Long.

'Long-winded system'

Mr Gargan is yet to comment publicly but a Chief Police Officers Staff Association spokesman said it awaited specific details of the alleged breaches of the police code of conduct.

"It would be inappropriate to comment until they have been provided - except to say that Chief Constable Gargan will continue to co-operate fully with the process and wants to get back to work as quickly as possible."

Nigel Ashton, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel, said he was concerned about how long it had taken to bring the gross misconduct charge.

He said the people who made the original complaints had the right to do that and remain anonymous but added that the chief constable also had rights - and was "innocent until proven guilty of anything".

Ms Ashton said: "It's a very long-winded system on something that could be potentially quite damaging and is a serious issue which I think should have been handled much more quickly."

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