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Retired police officers join calls for quick resolution of Chief Constable

Retired police officers from the Avon and Somerset force have joined calls for a quick resolution to the issues surrounding their chief constable.

In a strongly worded open letter to Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, The Association of Retired Police Officers described the situation around Nick Gargan as 'devastating' and urged a 'speedy, calm and harmonious' resolution.

We fear that, if a Chief Constable with eight findings of guilt for misconduct remains, there will be little respect for him for the duration of his contract. The consequences that will ensue for individuals include low morale, de-motivation and inevitable concern about their vulnerability within the Force structure and it is your clear duty to avoid such a situation.

The Chief Constable as the overall head for maintaining discipline and control of the Force must be an individual of impeccable character. We cannot see how that could possibly be achieved in the current circumstances.

– National Association of Retired Police Officers

Read the full letter below:

A petition calling on Nick Gargan to resign has reached more than 800 signatures.

Police and Crime Commissioner speaks about Nick Gargan for the first time

There's growing pressure for the Chief Constable in charge of Somerset to step down after he was found guilty of eight misconduct charges earlier this month.

After retired officers released a statement saying there would be little respect for Nick Gargan if he returned, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens spoke about the issue for the first time.

But when our correspondent Bob Constantine tried to push her further on the issue, her PR stepped in.

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Suicidal girl spends 18th birthday in police cell

Avon and Somerset Police have said that a suicidal girl had to spend her 18th birthday in a custody cell because there was no space at a mental health unit.

It comes as new figures have been released today showing that there were seventeen deaths in police custody last year, the highest number for five years.

Eight of those who died in custody had mental health concerns.

Nigel Campbell from Rethink Mental Illness told ITV West Country "What we're asking for is this not to be the situation, we shouldn't ask Police to be in that position."

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Bristol MP asks why Gargan inquiry has taken so long

Bristo East MP Kerry McCarthy has spoken out after Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Police was found guilty of misconduct Credit: John Stilwell/PA

A Bristol MP has criticised the handling of a misconduct inquiry involving Chief Constable Nick Gargan.

Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has said that the investigation took too long. Nick Gargan has been suspended on full pay for over a year - costing nearly £250,000. The suspension has now been lifted.

It is ridiculous that it has taken fifteen months to deal with this. It is now a decision for Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens as to how he carries on with his job. It would have been in the interests of the force to have dealt with this a lot more quickly.

– Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East

Chief Constable found guilty of misconduct

Nick Gargan had been suspended on full pay since May last year. Credit: PA

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police has been found guilty of misconduct at a private panel hearing today.

Nick Gargan faced ten charges of gross misconduct and three of misconduct, and has been found guilty of eight at the level of misconduct, though not of gross misconduct.

The Chief Constable was accused of leaking internal emails and behaving inappropriately towards female staff members last year. He has been suspended on full pay ever since.

His suspension has been lifted, and after a hearing on what sanctions he will receive, he is due to return to work.

Fire crews offer advice to residents after fatal blaze

The house in Long Sutton which burnt down on Monday night Credit: ITV News

Fire crews will be offering safety advice to residents of a Somerset village following a fatal house fire earlier this week.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of the blaze at Long Sutton, but there have been several recent fire-related deaths in Devon and Somerset where the victim lived alone.

They will be knocking on doors and will also be outside the post office 9am-5pm and at the village hall from 3.15pm until the weekend.

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