A former Northamptonshire police constable has been imprisoned for seven months after sending “flirty” and “sexual” messages to a woman he arrested.
Oliver Binns, aged 26, committed the offence when he was a serving officer at Northamptonshire Police on October 1, 2020.
The court heard that - the day prior - Binns attended an address in Olney with another police officer to arrest a woman in connection with assault. The two officers were both tasked with taking the woman to a police station in Kettering and she was put in the back of a police car with Binns driving.
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Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, said that the woman was released from custody at 11.30pm and she was given a car ride home by a friend before she immediately went to sleep. She awoke at 8am on October 1, 2020 with a friend request and message on Snapchat from an account called ‘Liam KC.’
The court heard that the woman initially suspected the account to belong to an ex-partner before she received “numerous” messages of a sexual nature from the same account making comments including, “I wish I could have come into your cell last night,” and “you are the nicest looking person I’ve ever arrested.”
Binns then confirmed his identity when he sent a photo of himself to the woman, the court heard.
Mr Dunne said the victim blocked the Snapchat account only to receive a barrage of friend requests from different Snapchat accounts afterwards, which she also believed belonged to Binns.
An online complaint was filed to Northamptonshire Police on October 14 and the woman was visited by police days later.
Mr Dunne told the court that Binns was interviewed by police on March 12, 2021 and he accepted that he had been talking to women online in a “sexual and flirtacious way.” Binns also accepted that he had a number of snapchat accounts under a false name so his partner would not suspect him of contacting other women.
Binns claimed that, following the victim’s arrest, she said things in the back of the police car that were “suggestive” to him - the court heard. The victim disputed this in her statement and Binns’ body camera was not turned on.
Officers recovered a deleted Snapchat account on Binns’ phone, which matched the description provided by the victim.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct carried out their own investigation and served Binns with gross misconduct papers in April 2021.
The victim, in a statement, said this was the first time she had ever been arrested and the whole experience made her feel “unsafe.” She said she has had positive experiences with local police officers in the past but this incident - as well as media reports on Sarah Everard’s murder - has now changed her opinion of the police in a negative way.
She added: “He said he wished he could have come into my cell. When I think about that now, I think would he have been able to do that? I would have been trapped in there. I would be terrified if I ever got arrested again, this would send my anxiety through the roof.”
Rebecca Bax, in mitigation, told the court that this was a short-lived offence, Binns has no previous convictions, and he made full admissions to his wrong-doings when interviewed. She said he feels “significant embarrassment and shame” and has since resigned from his job as a police officer.
Ms Bax told the court that, at the time of the offence, Binns was going through a “difficult” period in his life and - feeling lonely and isolated - became embroiled in gambling.
The defence barrister said: “He has lost his dream job as a result of his behaviour for which he is very remorseful.”
Binns, who joined Northamptonshire Police at the age of 16, has now secured an apprenticeship, which Ms Bax says was “hard fought for” due to his conviction and immediate custody would jeopardise that.
Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane, sentencing Binns, told him that his actions undermined public trust in the police and made the victim feel “unsafe, confused and shocked.”
Judge Crane said: “She was a vulnerable woman and you abused your position in your authority as a police officer.”
Binns, of Parker Way in Nettleham, Lincoln was sentenced to seven months imprisonment for one count of misconduct in a public office at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, June 29.
Head of Northamptonshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD), Superintendent Natalee Wignall, said: “Such misconduct has had very serious consequences for the officer involved. Northamptonshire Police will not tolerate this type of behaviour and we will hold all officers and staff to account to ensure the highest standards of conduct are maintained.“Although Binns had resigned from the Force, we will hold a misconduct hearing in due course which will ensure he never again serves as a police officer.”