A NEW Chief Constable has been appointed by the Police and Crime Panel to lead Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Nick Gargan, 46, was put forward as the preferred candidate following a rigorous interview process headed by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens on Friday, January 11.

The Police and Crime Panel was yesterday due to decide whether to officially offer him the position.

Speaking after the confirmation hearing, panel chairman Cllr Nigel Ashton said: "The panel was unanimous in its view. All members were impressed in the quality of the candidate and the way the whole process was run. "The panel asked Mr Gargan wide-ranging questions from rural policing, commanding major incidents to partnership working and we were all impressed with his answers. He shows obvious commitment to Avon and Somerset Police and the area he will serve."

Mr Gargan is an experienced chief officer who has worked as Chief Constable of the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) and been involved in Ministerial High Level Working Group on Value for Money. He was the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Lead on investigations and held various roles with Thames Valley and Leicestershire Constabulary.

Nick Gargan said: "I am very proud to be the next Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset it is a super force that has made superb improvements. I’m delighted to step in and continue that improvement. "We now face the challenge of building on that success in a tough financial climate. It is a big job but there is an excellent team at Avon and Somerset Constabulary and I look forward to working with them and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens. I am confident that together we will continue to reduce crime and provide an excellent policing service."

Ms Mountstevens said she was looking forward to working closely with Mr Gargan. "I am delighted the Police and Crime Panel has agreed that Nick is the best person for the job," she said. "He was an outstanding candidate in a very strong field."

Mr Gargan is due to take up his role on March 1.