There have been violent clashes between Kill the Bill protesters and police in Bristol – Image: John Myers

Mirror Online: LONDON, England – The chief of a police force that been heavily criticised following violent clashes with Kill the Bill protesters is to quit his role this summer.

Andy Marsh, chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, announced on Wednesday that he will stand down when his contract ends at the start of July.

A prepared statement from Mr Marsh did not outline his reasons for stepping down from the top job or whether it had anything to do with recent criticism levelled at him and his officers.

It comes after the force was slammed over its policing of both a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol last year, during which the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down, and recent Kill the Bill protests which descended into chaos.

The force has had the backing of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel following the Kill the Bill violence.

However, Ms Patel had singled out Mr Marsh after his officers allowed BLM to tear down the Colston statue and dump it in Bristol’s harbour.

In a statement, Mr Marsh, who joined Avon and Somerset Police 24 years ago, said his decision to leave was a “difficult” one but it is the “right time” for him to pursue a “new challenge”.

He did not reveal what he plans to do after his contract ends.

The force is now looking for his replacement.

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 and continue on the journey to make Avon and Somerset Police the outstanding force it deserves to be.

“It’s been the honour of a lifetime to lead a force filled with officers, staff and volunteers who live and breathe our values of being a caring, courageous, inclusive and a learning-led organisation.

“I’m very proud of their achievements and the work they do every day to serve and protect the public.“Along with society, the world of policing has undergone a seismic shift since I joined in the late 1980s in terms of culture, attitude and professionalism, and from my role as NPCC lead for international policing, I know our model of policing remains very much the envy of the world.”

He added police “need to stay ahead of the curve” on technological innovations such as body-worn video, which Mr Marsh was responsible for promoting for use by forces across the country.

Mr Marsh, awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2018, closed his statement by saying: “The Avon and Somerset area has wonderfully rich diversity, strong communities and an enduring sense of public spirit, which will only make it an even harder wrench to leave my role this summer.”

  • Top Feature Photo: Chief Constable Andy Marsh speaks after a police station was attacked during a Kill the Bill protestImage: PA