An official watchdog is investigating 12 people from Sussex Police as it looks into the way that the force responded in the Shana Grice case.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also made six “quick time” recommendations to help improve the way that the force deals with stalking and harassment.
Michael Lane, 27, of Thornhill Rise, Mile Oak, was jailed for life at Lewes Crown Court last month for the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice, of Chrisdory Road, Portslade.
Lane stalked the teenager before killing her in August last year. Miss Grice called the police a number of times but on one occasion she was given a fixed penalty fine for wasting police time.
The IPCC said today (Friday 28 April): “Sussex Police has accepted six learning recommendations put forward by the IPCC to improve the way the force handles cases involving stalking and harassment.
“The recommendations were made as part of the ongoing investigation into the interactions Sussex Police had with 19-year-old Shana Grice prior to her tragic death in Brighton in August 2016.
“Michael Lane, 27, of Portslade, was convicted of her murder last month. He was handed a life sentence to serve a minimum 25 years in custody.”
IPCC associate commissioner Tom Milsom has made six quick-time learning recommendations to Sussex Police, based on information that has so far been made available during the investigation.
The recommendations include improving the way that officers are trained in recognising cases involving stalking and harassment and in how to best safeguard victims.
They also focus on improvements to data storage and retrieval and better use of existing systems to ensure relevant information is accurately logged, considered and reviewed.
Mr Milsom said: “I am encouraged by Sussex Police’s positive response to the recommendations I have made as part of our ongoing investigation.
“Stalking and harassment are serious offences and in certain situations, such as those involving Shana, can have tragic consequences.
“I am also pleased to see the work Sussex Police has been doing this week in association with Suzy Lamplugh Trust as part of National Stalking Awareness Week to encourage those who believe they have been the victims of this behaviour to come forward and report it.”
The IPCC added: “At this stage of the investigation 12 members of staff with Sussex Police have been identified as subjects of the inquiry.”
Sussex Police said that it “welcomes the learning recommendations made by the IPCC to help improve the force’s response to stalking and harassment”.
Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “We are committed to improving our response to these cases and the IPCC recommendations form part of our ongoing work.
“Since making a referral to the IPCC about how we dealt with incidents involving Shana leading up to her murder, we have provided additional training and feel we are much improved now – as a police service and as a society – at recognising stalking and its impact and our response to it.
“We have improved our understanding of what stalking and harassment is and what our response should be.
“This is being reinforced forcewide through sharing of guidance, training and reviewing stalking cases.
“In the last six months we have provided additional training, also delivered by partners, and have reviewed many cases. Work of this type continues every day so that officers can effectively keep people safe.
“We are encouraged that the IPCC has acknowledged our positive approach and we are also currently working with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to raise public awareness of the issue during National Stalking Awareness Week.
“Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O’Reilly has previously extended his sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Shana Grice and within days of her murder he personally visited Shana’s family to apologise on behalf of Sussex Police and we made a referral to the IPCC.
“We are fully co-operating with the IPCC’s independent investigation and until we receive their eventual report we cannot comment further.”