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Oliver Banfield: West Midlands Police officer who drunkenly attacked woman on her way home avoids jail

Written by on 19 March 2021

A male off-duty police officer has been spared jail after admitting drunkenly attacking a woman while she was walking home alone.

PC Oliver Banfield, from West Midlands Police, was given a curfew and ordered to pay £680 at Leicester Crown Court on Friday.

He admitted assault by beating on Emma Homer, 37, at a hearing in January.

Labour MP Harriet Harman criticised the sentence as showing the “system fails women”.

She tweeted: “Policeman attacks woman walking home alone after dark. Must have been terrifying for her but no prison sentence. He continues in post. @WMPolice (West Midlands Police) must review.

“This is proof, if any needed, that system fails women and protects men.”

Banfield, 25, was “removed from public-facing duties” after the assault and has now been suspended while a gross misconduct inquiry takes place.

The court handed down a 14-week curfew that stops him leaving home between 7pm and 7am, and ordered him to pay £500 compensation, a £95 victim surcharge, and £85 court costs.

The assault happened in the early hours of 26 July last year in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire.

CCTV played in court showed Banfield grabbing his victim around the neck and trying to pull her to the ground as she walked home.

Mrs Homer said she believed he was “fulfilling a violent cop movie fantasy”.

In a victim impact statement, she said it had taken “more than 30 hours for an officer to take a telephone statement”, “nine days for an officer to come and see her”, and “eight weeks for an officer to conduct house-to-house enquiries”.

The force has since personally apologised and said its “initial response to the report of the assault was not as swift as it should have been”.

Mrs Homer she said she suffered “anxiety, insomnia and stress”, which had been “compounded by the slow response from Warwickshire Police”.

“I often ask myself if the impact of the attack would have been so severe if my assailant was not a police officer,” she said.

“During the assault as I struggled to get to safety, I was sure this drunk man was fulfilling a violent cop movie fantasy.

“To be verbally abused with misogynistic slang, grabbed by the neck, and forced to the floor on a dark road by a drunk man a foot taller than me is terrifying, but to then find that he was a police officer shook my belief system to its core.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially decided not to charge the officer, but changed its mind after the Women’s Justice Centre intervened.

Sarah Everard Image: The force said it understood ‘the strength of feeling’ around women’s safety after Sarah Everard’s killing

Deputy chief constable Vanessa Jardine, from West Midlands Police, said: “Oliver Banfield was removed from public-facing police duties after the assault and while the investigation by Warwickshire Police was being carried out.

“To protect the criminal case we’ve not been able to carry out our own misconduct investigation until its conclusion.

“Now sentencing has taken place, our investigation will be carried out and PC Banfield faces allegations of gross misconduct and is currently suspended.

“We understand the strength of feeling surrounding the desperately sad death of Sarah Everard and concerns on the issue of women’s safety but it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.

“Our role is to protect the public, who should be able to trust us. We therefore hold all our officers to the highest standards and we will take appropriate action against anyone whose actions fall below what is expected.”

Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said he had asked the force’s chief constable to brief him on the case.