A police officer who retired from Sussex Police in 2017 did not commit gross misconduct in relation to his dealings with Shana Grice prior to her tragic murder some months later. However, a misconduct hearing panel has ruled that some of his actions did constitute misconduct.
The independently-chaired hearing at Sackville House in Lewes on Monday and Tuesday (July 29-30) considered allegations that in March 2016* former PC Trevor Godfrey, who was present throughout the hearing, had failed to adequately investigate allegations of assault, harassment and stalking alleged by Shana Grice. He had concluded that she was dishonest and failed to treat her as a victim, instead warning her about wasting police time. It was further alleged that he failed to respond appropriately to a report of harassment and stalking made by Shana Grice in March 2016*, not contacting her or updating her on the incident. As a result, she was not treated as a victim of domestic abuse.
The panel found that eight allegations out of 15 were proven, but did not amount to gross misconduct. Had he still been serving, he may have faced internal disciplinary action, but not dismissal, but as he had retired, no sanctions were considered by the panel.
Assistant Chief Constable Jon Savell said: “We deeply regret the tragic death of Shana Grice in 2016 and are committed to constantly improving our understanding of stalking and our response to it.
“Our then deputy chief constable personally visited Shana’s family to apologise on behalf of Sussex Police.
“When we looked at the circumstances leading to Shana’s murder, we felt we may not have done the very best we could and made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
“Since then we have undertaken all their recommendations, thoroughly reviewed all aspects of how we deal with cases of stalking and harassment and have significantly improved our service to victims.
“We are recording the second highest number of reports anywhere in the UK after the Metropolitan Police, and are now advising and supporting more victims than ever. With better awareness and enhanced training our approach is more robust in keeping people safe and feeling safe.
“We encourage victims to come forward with the knowledge that our officers and staff are better trained and that they will take all reports seriously. We are absolutely aware of the consequences if our response is not the correct one, so we want to ensure that victims have confidence in how both police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will support them."
In May, another officer, PC Mills, who had resigned before the hearing, was found to have committed gross misconduct and the panel ruled that had he still been serving he would have been dismissed without notice.
Four other police officers and three members of police staff, have received management advice and further training.
Our detailed response to an HMICFRS (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services) report following an inspection specially commissioned by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, into the force's stalking and harassment work, was released in April - click here to view.
We had previously issued a separate release on our support for National Stalking Awareness Week.
*Kindly note that these dates have been corrected since the original publication of this release.
Author: Andy Freeman