By Samantha Jones-
A serving Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) convicted of sexually assaulting a female colleague in a police station gym may have been too harsh
PCSO Edward Oniba was attached to the Met’s North West Basic Command Unit, which covers Brent, Barnet and Harrow.
He was found guilty of sexual assault by touching at Harrow Crown Court on Monday
His actions were described as “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” by Chief Superintendent Dan Knowles, who said he was “absolutely appalled” by the incident.
The court heard that in October 2020, PCSO Oniba made inappropriate comments to a female colleague in the gym at a north London police station. He was on duty at the time.
PCSO Oniba also hugged and kissed his victim on the neck without consent.
The incident was reported in March 2021 and PCSO Oniba was interviewed under caution in May 2021.
He admitted to hugging the victim, but he denied kissing her on the neck.
Some analysts have questioned the decision to pursuer a criminal case in a matter that appears ideal for an internal tribunal only. Hugging a colleague hardly warrants a court, especially as they must have had a friendly relationship of some sort for him to feel he could hug her.
An analyst assessing the situation believe that for the two officers to be training together in the gym, they must have been relatively close.
Writer and life coach Sheila Mckenzie, said :” In principle, a man should always be certain that any physical contact with a woman is welcome, but on the balance of probabilities, one would think that for a police officer to hug his female colleague, they must have had a rapport. He denies kissing her on the neck, but even if he did, this is a matter that should have been addressed internally, not in the courts.
How is it that an alleged kiss on the neck is taken to the courts, but when police officers are reported for intolerable racist comments to their colleagues, it is dealt with internally by a disciplinary tribunal? There appears to be a level of contradiction here. Did the courts view cameras in the gym to assess the body language of the two officers?
A lawyer who did not want to be named, told this publication: The offence of assault is engaged once wilful physical contact is made with another person without their consent. Motive and the past conduct and relationship of the two parties is also important. It seems a bit strange that two colleagues who knew each and went to the gym together would end up in court as adversaries over a hug and an alleged kiss on the neck. Much will depend on the exact facts of the case.
There have been numerous reported cases of sexual and criminal offences by police officers, but this one appears too harsh. Insufficient information has been publicly given about rhe
The case was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service and PCSO Oniba was charged via postal-requisition on 20 April 2022.
Chief Superintendent Dan Knowles, who is in charge of policing for the North West BCU, said: “I am absolutely appalled by PCSO Oniba’s completely inappropriate behaviour, which has absolutely no place in the Met.
“No one should be subject to sexual assault, especially in their place of work. I would like to thank the victim for coming forward and speaking up about her colleague’s unacceptable behaviour.
“PCSO Oniba has been convicted and will now face the consequences.”
A police spokesperson said that misconduct proceedings will now take place as soon as possible and that PCSO Oniba remains suspended from duty.