The changes made by Sussex Police in response to the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice are too little, too late, her family said today (Wednesday 10 April).
The family spoke out in response to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report about the changes made by Sussex Police in the wake of the 19-year-old’s death.
Miss Grice was killed by her former stalker boyfriend in August 2016, despite repeatedly reporting her concerns to Sussex Police.
Instead, officers gave Miss Grice a penalty notice for wasting their time. Five months later she was dead.
In a statement issued through Hudgell Solicitors, her parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, said: “Our daughter took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected was treated like a criminal. She paid for the police’s lack of training, care and poor attitude with her life.
“It’s only right that the police make changes but it’s too little, too late for Shana.
“Sussex Police should not be applauded for this. Instead we would encourage people to reflect on why they’re making these changes. A young girl went to them for protection and ended up murdered in her own home by the very person she’d asked the police to protect her from.
“The proof will of course be in whether the changes are adhered to by officers and whether Sussex Police prevent other young innocent girls dying on their watch.”
Michael Lane was jailed for life for killing Miss Grice. At his trial, the judge, Mr Justice Green, was scathing in his criticism of the way that Sussex Police treatrd Miss Grice, saying: “You jumped to conclusions.
“In other words, she was treated as the wrongdoer and having committed a criminal offence, and Michael Lane was treated as the victim.
“There was seemingly no appreciation on the part of those investigating that a young woman in a sexual relationship with a man could at one and the same time be vulnerable and at risk of serious harm.
“The police jumped to conclusions and Shana was stereotyped.”
The family’s lawyer, Andy Petherbridge, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “It is only to be expected that Sussex Police have made changes to their procedures for treating victims of stalking. Lessons needed to be learnt.
“However, none of this should overshadow the fact that individual officers still have serious questions to answer about their conduct towards Shana in the run up to her untimely death.
“Stalking is a life-changing crime for its victims and, as evidenced by Shana’s case, can lead to the most tragic of consequences if not tackled.”
Mr Petherbridge added that three police officers are facing misconduct proceedings for the way that they handled Ms Grice’s complaints about Lane.
He said: “The IOPC have confirmed to the family that disciplinary hearings against three officers will take place in April and May.
“Two police constables will face charges of gross misconduct and one police sergeant will face a charge of misconduct. A further three police officers will face management action.”
The full IOPC report into the police handling of Shana’s death was completed last year but remains unpublished, with no date yet set for Miss Grice’s inquest, although the family has received a copy of the report.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick May 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.
“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 IOPC.
“Our then Deputy Chief Constable personally visited Shana’s family to apologise on behalf of Sussex Police.
“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 Met 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 CPS will support them.”
Two police officers, one of whom has retired, will face gross misconduct proceedings, with an independent chair, on Tuesday 7 May and Friday 10 May.
Another police officer is to face internal misconduct proceedings. 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 any action.