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Newbury MP Laura Farris calls for Thames Valley Police information campaign following jailing of Oliver Perry-Smith

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THAMES Valley Police need to rebuild public confidence following the jailing of a predatory former officer from Newbury, MP Laura Farris has warned.

She was speaking following a meeting with senior officers in light of evidence which emerged during Oliver Perry-Smith's sentencing at Reading Crown Court last month.

Mrs Farris told the Newbury Weekly News: "I was shocked when I read your report."

Oliver Perry-Smith has been jailed for three-and-a-half years (56377324)
Oliver Perry-Smith has been jailed for three-and-a-half years (56377324)

And she writes in her NWN column today: "The parallels with Wayne Couzens (the Metropolitan Police officer currently service a life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard last March) are shocking."

Perry-Smith was jailed for three-and-a-half years for his predatory sexual behaviour towards six women, although there could have been as many as 12 victims, the court heard.

Speaking of the case, Mrs Farris said: "One young mother, whom he had spotted in a local car park and tracked down via the Police National Computer, said she believed he was going to rape her."

She added: "He wore his uniform to meet them even when he wasn't on duty.

"There are other aspects which were concerning – for example, the fact he used his private phone number to interact with some of them, thereby evading any tracking of his messages and movements.

"I have asked Thames Valley Police to consider conducting a public information campaign in light of this.

"The Perry-Smith case has serious implications for public confidence and I wonder how many women know, for example, that a police officer should never use their personal phone to interact with them.

Mrs Farris urged the force to launch an information campaign to clarify what the public can expect in the way of reassurance when an officer attends their home.

For example, she said it should be stressed that people have the right to see an identification badge and to see confirmation from a superior, via the officer's radio, that they are who they say they are and are acting in the course of their work.

Mrs Farris said she had been told the Thames Valley Police would discuss her proposals and concerns over potential misuse of the Police National Computer and added: "They also had some ideas of their own.

"I hope they will follow up on this."

Following the meeting with Mrs Farris, Ch Insp Emily Evans, West Berkshire deputy commander, said: "We will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to ensure that we identify and reduce risk to women and girls at every opportunity and that victims are given excellent care, support and service.

"We know that confidence in policing will have been damaged as a result of a number of high profile cases across the country.

"But we will continue to work in our communities to restore confidence and to protect the public at every opportunity.

"It would be very unusual for a plain clothes officer within the Thames Valley to be working alone, since it is Thames Valley Police policy for plain clothed officers to work in pairs.

"In the very unlikely event that a member of the public is approached in such circumstances they should feel able both to ask to see identification and to ask the officer where their colleagues are.

"Where there is still uncertainty, they can call our control room on 101 to verify who an officer is, or ask the officer to radio into the control room."

Thirty-eight-year-old Perry-Smith, who lived at Denman Drive, joined Thames Valley Police in 2009 and was an acting sergeant at the time of his arrest.

He was suspended on full pay and only resigned in February this year.

Thames Valley Police declined to say whether he will keep his pension rights, citing data protection regulations.

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