Connect with us

Latest Stories

Chief constable of Avon Police will quit amid backlash over handling of ‘Kill the Bill’ protests

Published

on

chief constable of avon police will quit amid backlash over handling of kill the bill protests

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police will quit this summer amid backlash over the force’s handling of Black Lives Matter and ‘Kill the Bill’ protests.

Andy Marsh, who has spent 34 years on the force, will not seek to extend his contract when it expires at the beginning of July, saying it was a ‘difficult decision to make’.

The force has come under fire for being too heavy-handed in its response to the recent ‘Kill the Bill’ protests in Bristol when violence broke out during demonstrations against the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Senior officers were also criticised for failing to intervene to stop Black Lives Matter protesters dumping a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour last summer. 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Marsh said it had been the ‘honour of a lifetime’ to lead the force he first joined in 1987 and that it would be a ‘wrench’ to leave the job.

Andy Marsh (pictured on March 22, following a Kill the Bill protest) will not seek to extend his contract when it expires at the beginning of July, saying it was a 'difficult decision to make'

Andy Marsh (pictured on March 22, following a Kill the Bill protest) will not seek to extend his contract when it expires at the beginning of July, saying it was a 'difficult decision to make'

Andy Marsh (pictured on March 22, following a Kill the Bill protest) will not seek to extend his contract when it expires at the beginning of July, saying it was a ‘difficult decision to make’

Unrest following rallies against the government's proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol over recent weeks led to claims that policing had been too aggressive. Pictured: A demonstrator skateboards in front of a burning police vehicle on March 21

Unrest following rallies against the government's proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol over recent weeks led to claims that policing had been too aggressive. Pictured: A demonstrator skateboards in front of a burning police vehicle on March 21

Unrest following rallies against the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol over recent weeks led to claims that policing had been too aggressive. Pictured: A demonstrator skateboards in front of a burning police vehicle on March 21 

He said: ‘To leave a force I first joined in 1987 has been a difficult decision to make, but I feel it is the right time for me to embark on a new challenge and for another person to take the helm and continue on the journey to make Avon and Somerset Police the outstanding force it deserves to be.’

Mr Marsh, who is married with two daughters, joined Avon and Somerset Police as a new recruit in 1987, working his way up to the rank of chief superintendent.

He took the job of Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset in February 2016, after serving as Assistant Chief Constable at Wiltshire Police and Chief Constable at Hampshire Constabulary, which under his lead became the first police force in England to be personally equipped with body-worn video.

He was appointed as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) policing lead for body-worn video in 2014 and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal, presented for gallantry or distinguished service, in 2018.

Mr Marsh’s personal achievements include being a rowing silver medal winner in the Barcelona 2003 World Police and Fire Games alongside undertaking a 15,000ft parachute jump to raise funds for the national UK Police Memorial in 2018.

He is a ‘dedicated football fan’ and enjoys running, rowing and fly-fishing, according to Avon and Somerset’s website. 

The force’s police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: ‘Andy Marsh has been an outstanding chief and has led his team with courage through some particularly challenging times for policing – including austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic.’

In recent weeks, Bristol has seen unrest following Kill the Bill protests against Government plans to give police sweeping powers to control demonstrations.

Force bosses were also criticised for failing to intervene to stop Black Lives Matter protesters throwing a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour (above) last summer

Force bosses were also criticised for failing to intervene to stop Black Lives Matter protesters throwing a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour (above) last summer

Force bosses were also criticised for failing to intervene to stop Black Lives Matter protesters throwing a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour (above) last summer

Police with shields and helmets hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station in Bristol on Sunday, March 21

Police with shields and helmets hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station in Bristol on Sunday, March 21

Police with shields and helmets hold back people outside Bridewell Police Station in Bristol on Sunday, March 21

A riot broke out on March 21 when around 500 people marched on Bridewell police station, set fire to police vehicles and attacked the station, and protests on March 23 and 26 also ended with clashes between activists and officers.

Following the demonstrations, Bristol West Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire said she was speaking to people who claimed officers were too forceful.

From pioneering body-worn cameras to being awarded the Queen’s Police Medal: A timeline of Andy Marsh’s career

1987 – Andy Marsh carried out detective and operational tasks while working at Avon and Somerset Police.

2001 – He became Chief Superintendent and Commander for South Bristol and Somerset East.

2006 – Appointed as Assistant Chief Constable at Wiltshire Police.

2009 – Became Assistant Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Police.

2010 – Worked as Deputy Chief Constable then Chief Constable at Hampshire Constabulary, which under his lead became the first police force in England to be personally equipped with body-worn video.

2014 – Appointed as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) policing lead for body-worn video.

2016 – Became Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Police.

2018 – Awarded with the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM), presented for gallantry or distinguished service.

<!—->

Advertisement

She said: ‘This is absolutely unacceptable.

‘The scenes of violence and direct attack on the police in Bristol city centre will distress most people including anyone who believes in defending the right to peaceful democratic protest.’

Mr Marsh defended breaking up crowds during the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests, saying it was ‘what our communities expected us to do’ under lockdown regulations.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, added at the time: ‘This is not about protecting the right to protest, it’s violent criminality from a hardcore minority who will hijack any situation for their own aims.

‘My colleagues, some of whom are now in hospital, face the brunt of that hatred. Thoughts remain with my colleagues.’

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police further stated: ‘Officers have had projectiles thrown at them, including a firework, and have been verbally abused. 

‘This is unacceptable behaviour and those responsible for offences will be identified and brought to justice.’ 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, introduced to the Commons this month, would give officers in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance.

Those convicted under the proposed legislation could face a fine or jail. The Bristol protesters were carrying signs reading ‘say no to UK police state’ and ‘freedom to protest is fundamental’.

Police had advised people not to attend the protest due to coronavirus legislation, which bans mass gatherings.

Mr Marsh also spoke out on the force’s tactics when officers failed to intervene to stop the Colston statue being damaged.

He said that trying to arrest the activists would have resulted in ‘a very violent confrontation’.

The approach was later backed by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.   

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Marsh said it had been the 'honour of a lifetime' to lead the force and that it would be a 'wrench' to leave the job

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Marsh said it had been the 'honour of a lifetime' to lead the force and that it would be a 'wrench' to leave the job

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Marsh said it had been the ‘honour of a lifetime’ to lead the force and that it would be a ‘wrench’ to leave the job

This Post first appeared on https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: