BROMYARD'S Community Support Officer has spoken of his distress after being suspended from duty by West Mercia Police.

Barry Lockyear, who is employed by and works with the police, will not be able to return to work until a force investigation has been completed.

He declined to comment on the nature of the complaint made against him but said he was confident that he would be completely cleared.

But Mr Lockyear criticised the police response to the complaint as heavy handed.

"I am absolutely appalled by the way the system works," he said. "I have now been suspended since early December without warning or a preliminary investigation."

He added that the current situation would be damaging to his work as a community support officer.

He said: "In the past 12 months I've developed relationships and built up a lot of trust and confidence with the local community and that's suddenly been taken away."

He did not say whether he would return to work if he was cleared.

Community support officers are employed by the police to work with beat managers and help make towns safer.

Their duties include carrying out regular foot patrols and tackling minor incidents of disorder and anti-social behaviour.

A spokesman for Herefordshire police said: "Herefordshire police can confirm that Mr Lockyear has been suspended from duty whilst an internal investigation is carried out. Due to the circumstances no further information is available until the completion of the enquiry."