THE CHIEF Constable at Avon and Somerset Constabulary today announced his decision to stand down after seven years at the helm of the force.

Chief Constable Colin Port will be retiring when his contract ends on January 26.

Following the election of Avon and Somerset’s first PCC Sue Mountstevens last week, he revealed he would not reapply for the post.

Chief Constable Port said: “Yesterday I had a meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner. She told me she intends to start the process to recruit a Chief Constable to take Avon and Somerset forward. I told her I had no intention of applying for my job.

"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.

He added: "I am terrifically proud to have led Avon and Somerset Constabulary, whose men and women have delivered so much in partnership with the Police Authority. I am sad to leave and stunned by the many messages of support I have received overnight from police officers and staff, ACPO colleagues, partners and friends of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. To all of them, I say thank you."

Deputy Chief Constable Rob Beckley, who has been with Avon and Somerset Police for the past five years, will act as interim chief constable until a new leader is recruited.

PCC Sue Mountstevens said Chief Constable Port would be greatly missed by staff.

“Avon and Somerset’s chief constable Colin Port has made great improvements for this area,” she said. “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.

“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 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.”

Chief Constable Port joined Avon and Somerset Police since January 2005 after transferring from Norfolk Constabulary.

He began his career with Greater Manchester Police in 1974 and also served with Warwickshire Police.

In 1994, he worked for the United Nations as investigations co-ordinator with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.