A FORMER member of the neighbourhood policing team in Yate has quit the force amid mounting pressure after he sent racist text messages to colleagues.

Tony Bristow, who was based at Chipping Sodbury Police Station as a PCSO for six years, has stepped down from Avon and Somerset Constabulary 10 weeks into a 20-week training course to become a Police Constable. It follows public criticism of his selection to become a PC by other serving officers.

A police spokesman said: "Mr Bristow has resigned.

"There has been a lot of pressure over the last couple of weeks as a result of all the publicity.

"The pressure has been substantial and Mr Bristow took the decision to resign as of today."

Mr Bristow, who is in his early forties, was given a written warning and ordered to take part in ‘cultural awareness training’ after he forwarded two bad-taste jokes to colleagues while he was working as a PCSO on the Yate beat. It is believed at least one of the texts was derogatory towards Pakistanis.

However, the force stood by Mr Bristow, who was named South Gloucestershire PC of the Year in 2011, and said he had learnt his lesson.

Superintendent Paul Richards, head of the force’s Professional Standards Department, said: "The PCSO appeared before a disciplinary hearing after he forwarded two ‘jokes’ to colleagues that were clearly racist.

"He apologised unreservedly to all those who were affected and was given a written warning, and required to take part in cultural awareness training.

"He went on to prove himself to be an outstanding PCSO, who had been previously voted PCSO of the Year for South Gloucestershire by his local community.

"There has never been the slightest hint of further racist conduct. Whilst the constabulary doesn’t condone this kind of behaviour, it’s quite obvious that this officer has learnt from his experience.

"In making a selection decision the constabulary has balanced a serious incident with his excellent performance ever since and an outstanding score in his assessment."

A resident of his former Yate beat, who did not want to be named, told the Gazette: "We were just stunned that he had been recruited as a PC. We felt he let us down badly.

"There has been a lot of anger and hurt among quite a few people and we felt it needed dealing with for and on behalf of the good work that the police does. Otherwise it cheapens their efforts."

A serving police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "We feel like there is a racist in the ranks. He is not the correct person for the job."