Avon and Somerset police chief quits after being told to 'reapply for his job'
PUBLISHED November 22, 2012
Colin Port, the Avon and Somerset police chief constable, resigned less than a week after the area's new commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, was elected as his new boss.
Despite a glittering career and almost eight years as the area's police chief - in which he made driving down crime at the heart of his work - it is understood he was not in favour with Mrs Mountstevens.
Mr Port was unwilling to renew his contract in January, which would have seen him enter a ninth year with the force, after being told he would have to reapply for his job.
His resignation follows the election of Mrs Mountstevens as Avon and Somerset's police and crime commissioner (PCC) last week.
The 57-year-old former magistrate stood as an independent candidate in the elections. The row has seen him become the first casualty of the new PCC regime.
The embarrassing dispute threatens to overshadow a visit by the Queen to Bristol today, with the pair due to attend a reception together.
Today, in a statement issued through police, Mr Port said he met Mrs Mountstevens over her role of recruiting a chief constable and told her he had "no intention of applying for my job".
He said: "I can confirm that I will be retiring from the police service on January 26 2013 at the end of my fixed-term appointment. In effect, I will be leaving considerably sooner.
"I am sad to leave and stunned by the many messages of support I have received overnight from police officers and staff, Acpo (Association of Chief Police Officers) colleagues, partners and friends of Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
"To all of them, I say thank you."
With Mrs Mountstevens' agreement, he would have been able to extend his contract by a year from January, but the Bristol Evening Post reported that his "hand was forced".
It is understood Mrs Mountstevens wanted a new chief constable. Work to find a replacement for Mr Port will now start immediately.
Mr Port, also 57, sent a message to his 5,000-plus officers and staff yesterday, informing them of his decision.
He joined the constabulary as its sixth chief constable in January 2005, moving from Norfolk Police, where he was deputy chief constable.
Mr Port was embroiled in a row last year over lucrative performance-related bonuses, after claiming £16,000 on top of his £151,000 earnings in 2009/10.
He started his career with Greater Manchester Police in 1974 and continued his service with Warwickshire Police.
In 1994, Mr Port worked for the United Nations as investigations coordinator with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
He was also the director of investigations for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and former head of the South East Regional Crime Squad.
Figures show that during his tenure in Avon and Somerset, the annual recorded crime throughout the Bristol area fell sharply, from more than 71,000 offences in 2004/5, to less than 48,000 in the past financial year.
Today, on her first official day in the post, Mrs Mountstevens insisted that Mr Port had ''made great improvements for this area''.
She said in a statement: ''He has increased detection rates and reduced crime. He will be greatly missed by staff and partners. I know that he will continue to do great things and I wish him every success for the future.''
In a second statement issued a few hours later, she added: "Everyone is aware that the chief constable's contract expires on January 26. Because of that, I would like to run a competitive process to appoint a chief constable for my whole term of office.
"It was his (Mr Port's) choice not to apply but I know that he will continue to do great things and I wish him the very best for the future."
"It should be noted that as the Chief Constable has already served for eight years under legislation we could only make his appointment on a one-year basis.
"Discussions took place yesterday and it was felt that these terms did not give residents, officers and staff the clarity which they deserve and need."
Across the country, the newly-elected PCCs will have the power to appoint and dismiss chief constables, although the chief constable will appoint all other officers within the force.
A police spokesman said: ''When the chief constable leaves, the deputy chief constable Rob Beckley will act up as chief constable while we look to run a recruitment process.
''Deputy chief constable Rob Beckley has been with Avon and Somerset Police for the past five years.''