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PCC statement on 51 year old arrested in Witney

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Matthew Barber, Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, on the arrest of a 51 year old in Witney last week.

“Last week, a child was reported missing and later subjected to a serious sexual assault in Oxfordshire. My greatest concern is for the victim and ensuring they receive the support they need and I would urge anyone discussing this case to remember that there is a real child behind all of this.

“From my discussions with the Force over the last few days, the operational policing response by Thames Valley Police appears to have been exemplary. The victim and the suspect have been identified by CCTV operators who were able to direct officers immediately to safeguard the child and arrest the suspect. The case is being handled by the specialist Child Abuse Investigation Unit and the suspect has been charged and remanded into custody. This demonstrates excellent policing and I commend the officers involved for their work to tackle predatory sexual offenders. 

“I am concerned by the description of the individual, Osareen Omoruyi, as a woman. Thames Valley Police have, mistakenly in my view, relied on the ”self-described gender” in publishing a press release that incorrectly states that a woman has been charged with these offences. 

“My understanding is that magistrates in Oxford have quite rightly remanded Omoruyi to a male prison. 

“So why does this matter? I emphasise again that the police, the CPS and the courts have all acted swiftly to protect a child and in due course, to be able to present evidence to the court that will hopefully secure a conviction. Speculation on social media however is already having the potential to detract from this important reality. 

“The police and other criminal justice agencies must deal in facts, as best evidenced to them at the time. Any failure to do so risks damaging public confidence and overshadowing excellent policing in the interests of public safety. 

“In my view it was clearly wrong to describe the suspect as a woman. It is important that the public, and possibly other victims have a clear understanding of the facts. It is important that statistics around sexual offending are accurate.

“In a free society we are, and should be, able to live our lives at liberty to describe ourselves however we like – providing it doesn’t affect other people. In cases of serious sexual offending when public protection is at stake the vast majority of people will rightly expect the criminal justice system to deal in facts and nothing more. 

“The accused in this case, Osareen Omoruyi, is a 51 year old male.”