Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Recommendations issued to Sussex Police as part of investigation launched after the death of Shana Grice
Sussex Police have been asked to make improvements into how they handle allegations of stalking as part of an independent investigation into the death of Shana Grice.
Ms Grice, 19, was murdered in August 2016 in Portslade, and following a referral from Sussex Police the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched an investigation.
In March 2017 Michael Lane was convicted of her murder and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
The following month we announced that Sussex Police had accepted six quick-time learning recommendations regarding how it handles allegations of stalking following work on this investigation.
The recommendations included improvements to the way officers are trained in recognising cases involving stalking and harassment, and how to best safeguard victims.
They also focused on improvements to data storage and retrieval and better use of existing systems to ensure relevant information is accurately logged, considered and reviewed.
We completed our investigation in June 2018.
As a result, and following a statutory process with Sussex Police, it was agreed that one officer should face a gross misconduct hearing and four officers have a case to answer for misconduct, with one to attend a misconduct meeting and the other three to receive management action.
It was also agreed that two further members of staff should receive informal management advice.
The IOPC has also directed that Sussex Police schedule a misconduct hearing for one more officer in relation to his actions prior to the death of Ms Grice.
A further 12 quick-time recommendations were made to Sussex Police during our investigation, resulting in 18 recommendations in total. These related to effective training and use of risk assessments (the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence - DASH 2009), effective use of a further eleven dedicated set of questions designed to identify the nature of the alleged stalking or harassment (the S-DASH) and the use of Police Information Notices and the use of Fixed Penalty Notices.
IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: “Sussex Police have responded to our recommendations but as can be seen from the HMICFRS report published today there is still more work to be done. I would urge Sussex Police to make it a priority to fully address the issues we have identified.
“Stalking and harassment are serious offences and, as in the case of Shana, can have tragic consequences.
“Our recommendations cover areas such as implementing best practice in handling allegationsof harassment and stalking, improvements in training and improving the quality of risk assessments.”
Our investigation reviewed all contact Sussex Police had with Ms Grice and Mr Lane regarding allegations of stalking, harassment and assault.
In February 2016, Ms Grice informed Sussex Police that she believed Mr Lane was stalking her. Mr Lane was given words of advice about his behaviour.
In March 2016 Sussex Police were contacted regarding an alleged assault on Ms Grice by Mr Lane. During the police investigation it was revealed Ms Grice had been in a relationship with Mr Lane and she was subsequently fined for wasting police time.
In July 2016 Ms Grice reported Mr Lane to Sussex Police for stealing her house key, entering her home and entering her bedroom while she slept. Mr Lane was arrested and given a police caution for theft of the key, and a Police Information Notice.
The next day Ms Grice called the police again after receiving a number of missed calls from a withheld number. It was later established by Sussex Police these calls came from Mr Lane’s home but Ms Grice was not informed and no action was taken against him.
Later in July, Ms Grice complained to Sussex Police that Mr Lane had followed her to work. She was told an officer would respond to this, and told the same information when she called later for an update.
Mr Lane entered Ms Grice’s home and murdered her on 25 August 2016.
During our investigation, 14 individuals from Sussex Police were treated as subjects and provided evidence to the IOPC, six staff members and eight officers.
We also interviewed a number of police witnesses and members of the public.
Formal recommendations and the responses from Sussex Police will be published on our website in due course.
Sussex Police has scheduled a misconduct hearing for one officer to take place on 7 May and for the second officer to take place on 10 May.
On Monday we launched our ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign, during National Stalking Awareness Week, to raise awareness of a system to help people alert police when in imminent danger but unable to speak.
The Silent Solution system enables a 999 mobile caller who is too scared to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted – to inform police they are in a genuine emergency.
The system is well-established in the UK but is only effective if the public know and understand how it works. It could, in extreme situations, potentially save a life. You can read more about our campaign here
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