THE Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police has announced he is stepping down after a tough year for the force.

Andy Marsh said it had been the “honour of a lifetime” to hold the post and it was a "difficult decision" to leave, but it was time for "a new challenge".

Mr Marsh took on the role in February 2016 and will remain in post until the beginning of July.

Over the past year, officers have had to deal with large protests and public disorder, including the Black Lives Matter march last summer, and the recent violent scenes at the Kill the Bill protests.

There were claims that policing had been too aggressive following protests in Bristol against the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Bristol

And criticism was also levelled against Avon and Somerset Police inaction after a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into Bristol Harbour last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Mr Marsh 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."

He joined Avon and Somerset Police as a new recruit in 1987 before being appointed Assistant Chief Constable at Wiltshire Police in 2006.

After serving as Deputy Chief Constable and then Chief Constable at Hampshire Police, he came back to Avon and Somerset to take on his current role.

He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2018, the same year he was recognised by Women of the Future in its list of 50 ‘Kind Leaders’.