Devonshire and Cornwall Police chief constable Will Kerr, who joined the force in December 2022, was suspended by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez.
A statement issued by her office on Wednesday afternoon said: “Pursuant to section 38(2) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, has suspended the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Will Kerr OBE KPM, following allegations of misconduct.
“The commissioner has referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which has confirmed it will commence an investigation.”
A spokesman for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said: “Following assessment of a referral from the Police and Crime Commissioner, we have decided to investigate allegations of misconduct against the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police, Will Kerr.”
Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed deputy chief constable Jim Colwell would become acting chief constable following the suspension of Mr Kerr.
Mr Colwell said: “I understand our communities will be concerned about the reports in the media today regarding the suspension of Chief Constable Will Kerr KPM by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
“The PCC suspension of Mr Kerr follows a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
“I am keen to reassure the public that we will maintain our focus on delivering the best possible service to our communities.
“We have thousands of dedicated and professional officers, staff and volunteers within our force and strong leadership throughout which, when pulled together, mean we can continue to make improvements at pace to provide our communities with the highest levels of service they deserve.”
Mr Colwell added: “I will be stepping into the role of Acting Chief Constable on an interim basis to ensure consistency of leadership and service delivery of policing across the peninsula.
“This now remains a matter for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the IOPC to investigate.”
Mr Kerr has spent more than 30 years in policing and was deputy chief constable at Police Scotland before joining Devon and Cornwall.
He served with the Police Service of Northern Ireland for more than 27 years and reached the rank of assistant chief constable there, leading on both serious crime and counter-terrorism.
In 2015 he was made an OBE, and he received the King’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours earlier this year.