Crime boss criticises police for describing man accused of serious child sex offences in Oxfordshire as a 'woman'

A crime commissioner has criticised police for describing a man, arrested and charged last week with serious child sex offences, as a ‘woman’.
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Thames Valley Police (TVP) told the Banbury Guardian the person arrested identified as a woman and according to their code of practice, should be treated as female – their ‘stated preference’.

The case involves 51-year-old Osareen Omoruri, of Ducklington Lane, Witney, charged on Friday with two counts each of sexual assault by penetration and causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activity on Wednesday.

In its press release TVP said: “Following a TVP investigation, a woman has been charged with sexual offences in Witney.”

Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley Police regionMatthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley Police region
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley Police region

Matthew Barber, TVP Crime Commissioner said the police response was ‘exemplary’ but he was concerned by acceptance of Omonruyi’s ‘mistaken’ self-described gender as a woman.

He said: “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.

“The operational policing response... 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. This demonstrates excellent policing and I commend the officers involved for their work.

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

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

“So why does this matter? I emphasise again the police, the CPS and courts have acted swiftly to protect a child and present evidence 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 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,” he said. “The accused in this case, Osareen Omoruyi, is a 51-year-old male.”

TVP said it was aware public concern has been shared on social media.

"TVP adheres to the law and the codes of practice, including the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Code C, when establishing the gender of a person in our custody. The individual identified as a female and the officers treated them as such in accordance with College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice which outlines that officers should treat the person according to their stated preference. Consequently, our charge press release that was published reflected this position.”