‘Sexual predator’ ex-police officer jailed for misconduct in public office

An ex-police officer who “abused his power” and “broke public trust” by pursuing women for sex after meeting them in the course of his duties has been jailed.

Oliver Perry-Smith, who was based at Newbury police station with Thames Valley police, has been described as a “sexual predator” who targeted women in vulnerable positions.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), began an investigation in November 2019 and found Perry-Smith had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

Former Thames Valley Police Oliver Perry-Smith has been described as a
Former Thames Valley Police Oliver Perry-Smith has been described as a ‘sexual predator’ (Aaron Chown/PA)

He resigned from Thames Valley police on February 8 this year.

On Friday at Reading Crown Court he was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, the IOPC said.

His sentencing came after he pleaded guilty to three charges of misconduct in public office, and two charges of unauthorised access to computer material, contrary to the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The IOPC said Perry-Smith pursued six women between September 2014 and November 2019 that he had met through his duties.

He had sexual contact with three and tried to establish sexual contact with the others, the watchdog said.

He also looked up the details of one of those women and a seventh woman on police computer systems, for no policing purpose, the IOPC added.

The watchdog added that the women had all been in vulnerable positions either because they were subject to a police complaint requiring investigation or else were victims, witnesses or acting as appropriate adults for young victims of crime.

His actions came to light in late 2019 when a woman called police after Perry-Smith, who had previously attended the home of her friend, then sent an indecent image by text.

The watchdog found that the officer had also looked up details for her and her family on the police computer system.

On another occasion he used a police computer to identify a woman using her car registration after parking next to her and watching her go into a shop, the IOPC said.

He then called at her home without a policing purpose and made personal comments about her appearance, despite knowing she was alone with a young child, the watchdog said.

The woman became suspicious and made a complaint to the IOPC.

IOPC regional director Graham Beesley paid tribute to the courage of all the women who came forward to help with the investigation.

He said: “Perry-Smith was a sexual predator and his conduct caused significant distress to the women involved.

“He was prolific in the abuse of his position over a five-year period and his acts were intentional, deliberate, targeted and planned.

“His actions were often at the expense of his formal policing duties.”

He said Perry-Smith’s actions had “seriously undermined the good work of the large majority of police officers who professionally serve the public on a daily basis”.

Senior crown prosecutor Charles White of the Crown Prosecution Service said Perry-Smith had taken “advantage of his privileged position and access to police resources to pursue several women over a few years”.

He said: “He knowingly breached police policy when he made personal visits while on duty.

“He seemed to think that by lying to his superiors and using his duties as an excuse, he’d be immune to the consequences of his actions.

“Today’s sentence proves no one is above the law, including those meant to uphold it.

“Perry-Smith abused his power, broke public trust, and made many women feel uncomfortable or unsafe in his inappropriate pursuit of them.

“I hope today’s sentence brings those women a sense of justice.”

The IOPC said gross misconduct was found proven against Perry-Smith for breaching police standards of professional behaviour for authority, respect and courtesy; duties and responsibilities; honesty and integrity; and discreditable conduct.

The watchdog said it was determined that he would have been dismissed with immediate effect if he had not already resigned from the force.

The IOPC said he will also be placed on the barred list preventing future employment within the police service.

Thames Valley police Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “Former Pc Oliver Perry-Smith abused his position of power as a police officer and has rightly been punished for his disgraceful, criminal actions.

“We took robust action by referring his case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct as well as carrying out our own misconduct procedures.”

He added he is “pleased” Perry-Smith “has faced justice for his actions and is no longer part of Thames Valley Police”.