“One of the worst violations of policing integrity I’ve ever seen” – those are the words of West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson after one of his officers was jailed for sexually assaulting vulnerable women while on duty.
Former Birmingham police response officer PC Steve Walters (pictured), aged 48, assaulted two women on 8th February and 15 April last year, one in the back of a police patrol car and the latter in her own home after she’d dialled 999 asking for police assistance.
Walters appeared at Stafford Crown Court today (Oct 4) where he was handed a four-year prison sentence having already been dismissed from the force for gross misconduct.
Chief Constable Mr Thompson (pictured below) oversaw Monday’s special case hearing and apologised unreservedly on behalf of the force for PC Walters’ actions.
He said: “The public expects simple things from the police: that they can trust us, that we offer friendship and service to people in need, and that vulnerable people are safe in our care.
“A police uniform should be a beacon of comfort and protection. PC Walters has engaged in criminal activity that has shocked me…in 26 years police service this is one of the worst violations of policing integrity I have ever seen.
“People at a point where they needed our help were abused by this officer who used his uniform and power to enter people’s lives. I am deeply sorry for what has happened and apologise on behalf of the force.
“Having read one victim statement I am left in no doubt of the terrible impact these crimes have had on people. I only hope the public and PC Walters’ victims can understand the efforts we and the IPCC will take to bring officers who fail the public in this way to justice.
“There is no place for a criminal like PC Walters in this force, I don’t accept his apology, and I have no hesitation for dismissing him without notice.”
PC Walters, from Swadlincote, was on patrol in a marked police car on 8 February last year when he and a colleague offered a lift to a woman who was walking home from a night out.
During the five minute journey Walters – who was a front seat passenger – reached into the back and touched the woman’s thigh; she reported the incident several days later after confiding in a work colleague who is a former police officer.
And he was on duty and in uniform on 15 April when he attended the home address of a woman who’d reported her teenage son missing.
The schoolboy returned home but, as PC Walters moved to leave the house, he pushed his mum up against the hallway, kissed her and placed his hand inside her clothing.
PC Walters was arrested on 6 May and denied the allegations – but forensics experts found his DNA on the pants and vest of the woman he’d attacked in her own home.
He maintained his innocence, claiming the DNA evidence was as a result of sneezing near the woman, but on day one of trial at Stafford Crown Court on September 5 he entered guilty pleas.
In a prepared statement read out by a Police Federation representative at Monday’s hearing, PC Walters accepted his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and apologised, saying he’d let everyone down and understood the consequences.
West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Brian Carmichael from the force’s Professional Standards Department – the unit which investigates allegations of staff misconduct – said: “We expect the highest standards of professionalism from all officers and police staff.
“Serving and protecting the public is paramount and it is vital that our communities have trust and confidence in everything that we do. To breach this trust in such an abhorrent way is totally unacceptable.
“Any officer or staff members that fails to uphold our force values and falls below the high standards we expect will be dealt with accordingly.”
The case was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following a referral from West Midlands Police.
A third count of misconduct in a public office was left on court file.