Avon and Somerset Police chief Nick Gargan suspended over claims
A police chief has been suspended following "serious allegations" of inappropriate behaviour towards female officers and staff.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said several allegations had been made against Chief Constable Nick Gargan.
He denied the allegations and "was devastated" when they were reported to him, according to Ms Mountstevens.
He has been chief since March 2013 and a serving police officer since 1988.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmed it would be investigating "a number of serious allegations that relate to inappropriate conduct towards female members of staff at the force".'Looked for alternatives'
Ms Mountstevens said whistleblowers had spoken with her last week and she had referred the matter to the IPCC on Friday. The watchdog is set to carry out an investigation.
Deputy chief John Long will serve as chief constable on a temporary basis and the force's officers and staff have been informed of the decision.
"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," said Ms Mountstevens.
"I think it is important the chief constable is treated no better or worse than any other police officer who is under investigation."
Mr Gargan was the chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency before being appointed chief constable.
His selection came two months after Ms Mountstevens was elected as the force's first PCC.
The day after Ms Mountstevens was sworn in, former chief constable Colin Port announced he was stepping down after refusing to re-apply for his own job.
He later mounted a legal challenge against the decision to open up his job for interview but his bid to halt the selection process was refused by a High Court judge.