Police chief Colin Port steps down
AVON and Somerset Chief Constable Colin Port will step down in the new year, The Post can exclusively reveal.
Mr Port, who has been in charge of the force since 2005, had been weighing up his options for some time on whether to renew his contract in January. But less than a week after the election of the region's first ever Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, Mr Port has made the decision to go.
"I will be leaving the force," Mr Port, pictured, told The Post last night. "I will not be renewing my contract in January. I am going to miss the force greatly. There are some great people in this organisation doing fantastic work and I am very proud to have served as chief constable of Avon and Somerset police for the past eight years."
As commissioner, Ms Mountstevens has the power to remove or appoint a chief constable, unless vetoed by the new regional Police and Crime Panel (PCP) on a two-thirds vote.
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Although Mr Port would not divulge why he was stepping down, The Post understands that Ms Mountstevens wants a new chief constable and is looking to start the appointment process as soon as possible.
With Ms Mountstevens' agreement, he would have been able to extend his contract by a year from January, but The Post understands his hand was forced.
Ms Mountstevens was unavailable for comment last night.
Mr Port, 57, will now take stock before deciding whether he will retire permanently or look for a new challenge inside or outside policing.
Looking back on his distinguished career, he said: "I have a had a really great time in the police force and have loved every minute of it."
Mr Port sent a message to his 5,000-plus officers and staff yesterday, informing them of his decision.
He joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary as its sixth chief constable in January 2005, moving from Norfolk Constabulary.
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 co-ordinator 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.
Mr Port became deputy chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary before being seconded to Northern Ireland between 1999 and 2002 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson.
During Mr Port's tenure, recorded crime in Bristol has fallen massively – from 71,169 offences per year in 2004/5, to less than 47,462 in 2011/12.
He has led the force during a time when it has solved some of the country's most high-profile crimes, including Bristol bomb plotter Andrew "Isa" Ibrahim, who was jailed for life in 2009, and the Joanna Yeates murder case.
Earlier this year, Mr Port had to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, following the defamation of Miss Yeates' Clifton landlord Christopher Jefferies by a number of national newspapers.
Mr Port's most controversial moment arguably came in 2009, when he narrowly avoided a contempt of court charge at the High Court in London by handing back child porn images seized from a computer expert in an "unlawful" raid on his home.
Mr Port had faced the prospect of being sent to jail for apparently defying a High Court order that digital and hard-copy files should be returned to Terence "Jim" Bates, 68, because much of the material seized attracted legal privilege or was confidential.
New Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Sue Mountstevens said this morning: “Avon and Somerset’s chief constable Colin Port has made great improvements for this area.
"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.”
When the Chief Constable leaves the Deputy Chief Constable Rob Beckley will act up as Chief Constable.
Deputy Chief Constable Rob Beckley has been with Avon and Somerset Police for the past five years.