Lessons have been learnt after the murder of a Portslade teenager by an obsessive ex-boyfriend, Sussex Police said today (Thursday 8 August).
But more still needs to be done to improve the way that the force deals with cases of stalking and harassment, it said.
A senior Sussex Police officer spoke out after an official watchdog published an independent report about the way the force responded to incidents before Shana Grice was murdered in 2016.
The force said that it was “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.”
After Miss Grice was murdered the Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne commissioned an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.
The HMICFRS was asked to look at how Sussex Police responded to stalking and harassment – and it reported in April.
Mr 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 now retired, faced gross misconduct proceedings in relation to the Shana Grice case. The hearings took place in May last month.
The hearing on Tuesday 7 May found the case proved and that the officer – former PC Jon Mills – would have been dismissed if he was still serving.
The hearing on 29 July found that officer – former PC Trevor Godfrey – did not commit gross misconduct in relation to his dealings with Shana Grice. However, the panel ruled that some of the Brighton officer’s actions did constitute misconduct.
Another police officer faced internal misconduct proceedings after 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 face no action in relation to the case.