THE chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police will formally step down in January after nearly seven years on the job.

Colin Port’s place will be filled by deputy chief constable, Rob Beckley, while a permanent replacement is recruited.

The news comes just a week after the force’s new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Sue Mountstevens, was sworn in.

Mr 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 26 January 2013 at the end of my fixed term appointment. In effect, I will be leaving considerably sooner.

"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."

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