New police chief constable Nick Gargan: 'I'll be proud to lead the force'
THE new chief constable of Avon and Somerset police says he will be "proud" to lead the force and is "excited" about the challenges ahead.
Nick Gargan, who is currently in charge of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), was selected by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens on Friday night after an intensive and competitive interview process.
The 46-year-old replaces Colin Port, who has led the constabulary for eight years and is retiring when his contract expires on January 26.
Barring a veto from the regional Police and Crime Panel (PCP) when they meet, Mr Gargan will take charge on March 1.
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"I am proud to take up the position of chief constable for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, subject to the confirmation hearing," he said.
"This is an exciting opportunity for me to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens. Together, we will continue the force's improvements in victim satisfaction and reducing crime.
"My experience from the NPIA and previous roles in Thames Valley and Leicestershire will enable me to make a real difference to the communities of Avon and Somerset.
"I look forward to leading the very committed and dedicated police officers and staff within Avon and Somerset Constabulary."
The Post understands Mr Gargan will be paid a basic salary of £148,159 per year and he will be in charge of more than 5,000 police officers and staff.
On Thursday and Friday, he competed with three other candidates who had extensive experience with the force.
As she tested their credentials, Ms Mountstevens enlisted the help of her office's chief executive, John Smith; the region's chief crown prosecutor, Barry Hughes; retired Avon and Somerset detective superintendent Steve Livings and independent human resources expert Sue Lee.
The process included a presentation, questions from the panel, psychometric tests and a mock media scenario to see how they react in the public spotlight.
Ms Mountstevens said: "Nick is an experienced chief officer who has been working on a national level as chief constable and chief executive of the NPIA.
"There was a strong field of candidates and the appointments panel had a difficult job. I would like to publicly thank all the candidates for their interest and the panel for giving up their time to be part of this important process.
"We will both meet the PCP on Wednesday and they will have the opportunity to see that Nick is an experienced leader and committed to giving the people of Avon and Somerset an excellent policing service."
Mr Gargan's first policing job was with Leicestershire Constabulary in 1988, rising to chief superintendent.
From 2006 he worked for Thames Valley, where he was assistant chief constable for crime and criminal justice.
In the mid 1990s he was seconded to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, based initially in London and later in France.
He took charge of the British investigation into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and in 2007 gave evidence at the inquest.
Mr Gargan, who also has extensive experience as a detective, has been a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) since April 2006 and has been involved, on behalf of ACPO, with work around covert investigation since 2003.
From 2007 to 2010 he was the ACPO lead for intelligence and is a member of ACPO Crime Business Area. He joined the NPIA in January 2010.
Mr Gargan is an avid supporter of Leicester City FC, where he is a season ticket holder.
The PCP, which scrutinises the commissioner's major decisions, is made up of 15 councillors from all the local authorities in the region plus three independent members. If two-thirds of the panel vote against Mr Gargan's appointment when they meet in Clevedon on Wednesday, he will not get the job.
Current deputy chief constable Rob Beckley will be acting chief when Mr Port retires, until Mr Gargan takes over.
Last Tuesday, Mr Port was unsuccessful in his High Court bid to delay the appointment process.
He claimed Ms Mountstevens had acted "unlawfully" when she told him in November that he would have to re-apply for his own job when his one-year contract expires later this month.
Mr Port said he had no intention to do so, but later tried to extend his tenure by stopping last week's interviews and getting six months' notice.
Both claims were rejected by Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart, although Mr Port is considering an appeal.