Avon and Somerset police chief Andy Marsh to stand down this summer

Avon and Somerset’s top police officer is to leave his role this summer, the force has announced, after criticism of its handling of Black Lives Matter and “kill the bill” protests in recent months.

Chief constable Andy Marsh will not ask for his contract to be extended when it runs out in July.

He said it had been a “difficult” decision to make but was the “right time” for him to embark on a new challenge.

Over the past year, Avon and Somerset has been condemned for its handling of a series of large scale protests, such as the Black Lives Matter movement last summer and the “kill the bill” protests against the government’s new policing and crime bill last month, which at times turned violent.

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Some campaigners and politicians accused officers of handling the protests too aggressively, while others criticised it for not stopping demonstrators from pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumping it in Bristol harbour last year.

“It’s been the honour of a lifetime to lead a force filled with officers, staff and volunteers who live and breathe our values of being a caring, courageous, inclusive and a learning-led organisation,” Mr Marsh said in a statement on Thursday.

“I’m very proud of their achievements and the work they do every day to serve and protect the public.”

He added: “Along with society, the world of policing has undergone a seismic shift since I joined in the late 1980s in terms of culture, attitude and professionalism, and from my role as NPCC lead for international policing, I know our model of policing remains very much the envy of the world.”

He added police “need to stay ahead of the curve” on technological innovations such as body-worn video, which Mr Marsh was responsible for promoting for use by forces across the country.

Mr Marsh has held the role of chief constable since 2016. He joined the force as a new recruit in 1987 and moved to Wiltshire Police to take up the role of assistant chief constable in 2016.

He turned to Avon and Somerset and assumed his current role after serving as both assistant chief constable and chief constable at Wiltshire.

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