Andy Marsh: Avon and Somerset Police chief to leave role

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Chief Constable Andy MarshImage source, Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption,
Andy Marsh has held the role of Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Police for five years

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police has announced he is stepping down after a turbulent year for the force.

Andy Marsh said it was a "difficult decision" but it was time for "a new challenge".

He has held the role since February 2016 and will leave at the beginning of July.

The past year has seen the force face large protests and disorder including the recent Kill the Bill violence.

Unrest following multiple protests against the government's new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol led to claims that policing had been too aggressive.

Mr Marsh said dispersing protesters when gatherings were forbidden under lockdown rules was "what our communities expect us to do".

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Kill the Bill protests in Bristol have seen riot police deployed regularly over the past three weeks

Avon and Somerset Police's senior management was also criticised for failing to intervene to stop Black Lives Matter protesters throwing a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour last summer.

Defending his officers' actions that day, Mr Marsh said any intervention by them would have "risked a violent confrontation".

"Had they [police officers] intervened the consequences might have been incredibly serious and we might have become the epicentre of a new wave of protests around the whole world," he said.

'New challenge'

"It's been the honour of a lifetime to lead a force filled with officers, staff and volunteers who live and breathe our values," said Mr Marsh.

He joined Avon and Somerset Police as a new recruit in 1987 before being appointed Assistant Chief Constable at Wiltshire Police in 2006.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The statue of Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into Bristol Harbour in June 2020

After serving as Deputy Chief Constable and then Chief Constable at Hampshire Police, he returned to Avon and Somerset to take on his current role.

"To leave a force I first joined in 1987 has been a difficult decision to make, but I feel it is the right time for me to embark on a new challenge and for another person to take the helm," said Mr Marsh.

Mr Marsh received the Queen's Police Medal in 2018 and said that he was proud of what the constabulary had achieved in his time as Chief Constable, describing his time with the force as "the honour of a lifetime".

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