Two ex-police constables jailed for sexual misconduct targeting vulnerable women

Two former police constables have been jailed for misconduct after forming inappropriate sexual relationships or engaging in sexual activity with women they met on duty.

Former West Midlands Police officers Anthony Ritchie, 46, and Steven Walters, 55, in July were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court of two counts of misconduct.

Their 12-day trial was told they targeted the same victim, who has since experienced a “massive” impact on her mental health.

Ritchie, of East Meadway, Tile Cross, Birmingham, was jailed for four years by Judge Roderick Henderson on Thursday.

Walters, of Winster Green, Newhall, Swadlincote, Derbyshire,  appeared in the dock alongside his former colleague and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Walters previously served a four-year sentence for sexually assaulting two different women in 2015 whilst on duty, the court was told.

Passing sentence, Judge Henderson thanked the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for its “exemplary” inquiry into the two men.

The judge added: “Above all I am grateful to the three complainants in this case – these were brave women who came forward and stood up for themselves and their community.

“They, above all, deserve our thanks. The effects of sexual offending are never over once the act stops – they continue to ripple out, often for years.”

The court was told one of the charges against Walters and another against Ritchie related to the same woman, whose victim impact statement said of the former: “I can’t understand how any decent human being could do what he did.

“He has absolutely ruined my life. He has changed the person I am.”

Evidence gathered by the IOPC indicated that Ritchie began an inappropriate sexual relationship with the woman in 2014 after he responded to a reported domestic violence incident.

The inquiries indicated he sent her messages from his personal phone and they had sex after he arrested her partner, who was then remanded in custody.

During their relationship, she told him she had been pressured into oral sex by then-Pc Walters, who had gone to her home on his own to deal with alleged domestic abuse.

In May 2021, another woman came forward to say she had a relationship with Ritchie in 2014 after he asked for a date, having gone to her home in a bid to arrest her son.

Anthony Ritchie, 46, of East Meadway, Tile Cross, Birmingham,. was jailed for four years (West Midlands Police/PA)
Anthony Ritchie, 46, of East Meadway, Tile Cross, Birmingham,. was jailed for four years (West Midlands Police/PA)

Commenting after the ex-officers were jailed, IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “Abuse of position for a sexual purpose is a form of serious corruption, which has the potential to impact public confidence in policing.

“These now former officers would have been well aware of the vulnerability of the women they involved themselves with and yet they chose to exploit that for their own gain.

“Their disgraceful actions have no place in policing and they have paid a heavy price by losing their liberty. It sends a very clear message that this kind of predatory behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Ritchie was dismissed without notice for discreditable conduct at an accelerated hearing held by West Midlands Police on September 14.