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Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Following a number of serious allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards female officers and staff by the Chief Constable Nick Gargan, I have decided to refer the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who will now conduct an independent investigation.
"Due to the public interest in the case and to protect the integrity of the investigation I have decided to suspend the Chief Constable while the independent investigation is carried out.
"Deputy Chief Constable John Long will act up temporarily as Chief Constable and all officers and staff have been informed of this decision.
"I would like to assure the communities of Avon and Somerset that the Constabulary remains a high performing force. Both police officers and staff are committed to ensuring the area remains a safe place to live, work and visit."