Sussex Police has responded to publication on Thursday 8 August of an independent report about the way the force responded to incidents prior to the death of Shana Grice in 2016.
The force has been committed to improving its response to stalking following Shana’s tragic death.
Assistant Chief Constable Jon Savell said: “We deeply regret the tragic death of Shana Grice and have accepted that we made mistakes in this case.
"We apologised to Shana’s family at the time and I reiterate this again today.
“Since then, we have significantly improved our response and remain committed to further improvements to ensure we are delivering an effective and consistent service to victims, to prevent harm and ensure they can access the necessary support.
“When we looked at the circumstances leading to Shana’s murder, we felt we may not have done the best we could and made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). They carried out an independent investigation with which we fully supported and their full report has now been published.
“Our former Deputy Chief Constable also personally visited Shana’s family to apologise on behalf of Sussex Police.
“Since then, we have undertaken all the IOPC’s recommendations, which were originally set out in a report they published in April 2017.”
Following Shana’s death, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne commissioned an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to review the progress Sussex Police has made in its response to stalking and harassment, and a review of the response nationally. This was published in April 2019.
Jon Savell said: “The HMICFRS report acknowledged that we have significantly improved our understanding of what stalking and harassment is, and what our response should be. It also sets out where there is even more work to do and we accept this. The inspection provided a benchmark of progress made to date and we are committed to a journey of improvement.
“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.”
Two police officers, both of whom had retired, faced gross misconduct proceedings in relation to Shana Grice case. The hearings took place with an independent chair, on 7 May and 29 July. The hearing on 7 May found the case proved and the officer would have been dismissed if he was still serving. The hearing on 29 July found that officer did not commit gross misconduct in relation to his dealings with Shana Grice. However, the panel ruled that some of his actions did constitute misconduct.
Another police officer faced internal misconduct proceedings following which he was given a final written warning as to his conduct. Three other police officers and three members of police staff, have received management advice and further training. Five other police and staff are not to face action.
You can report stalking or harassment online by calling 101 or in person at your local police station. Always call 999 if you are in danger.
Author: Tim Mahony