The head of Avon and Somerset Police Federation has backed the shock suspension of Chief Constable Nick Gargan to ensure an effective investigation for all parties involved.
Mr Gargan was sent home on Tuesday afternoon as the Independent Police Complaints Commissioning (IPCC) began an inquiry into "serious" allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women officers and staff within his force.
This followed a number of "whistle-blowers" coming forward to Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who then referred those complaints to the police watchdog.
Kev Phillips, the chairman of the federation that represents the force's rank and file, said: "It is very rare for a chief constable to be suspended. There have to be real concerns and the allegations have to be serious.
"If the allegations are serious – and from what people say they must be – suspension is the right course of action because people would be reluctant to come forward and co-operate with any investigation, if the person the allegations have been made against is still in place."
He said that if the women who have made allegations against Mr Gargan need help and support during the investigation process – in which they will be interviewed – he and his fellow federation members will be there for them.
"Should our members come to us, we will always be there to support them," he added.
"At this moment in time I'm not aware of who the people are who have made these allegations. It's very early in the process."
Mr Gargan only took the helm in March 2013 – replacing Colin Port – when he was appointed by Ms Mountstevens following a rigorous interview process.
While he is suspended on his full annual salary of about £150,000, IPCC investigators are looking into the case.