Changes by police ‘too little, too late’ – family of murdered stalking victim

The changes made by a police force after a 19-year-old was murdered by a stalker she had repeatedly reported are “too little, too late”, say her family.

The parents of Shana Grice spoke out after Sussex Police confirmed some of the officers involved in her case would be facing disciplinary action over her death, and on the day an independent report found the force’s approach to investigating stalking and harassment cases was not consistent or effective.

Shana’s 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.”

Shana reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to officers five times in six months, but was fined for wasting police time. He was jailed for 25 years for her murder in March 2017.

Michael Lane court case
Michael Lane was found guilty of murdering his former girlfriend Shana Grice (Sussex Police/PA)

In the statement issued through Hudgell Solicitors, they added: “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.”

The family’s lawyer Andy Petherbridge 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.”

The full IOPC report into the police handling of Shana’s death was completed last year, but remains unpublished until Miss Grice’s inquest takes place, the family’s lawyer said.

Two police officers, one of whom has retired, will face gross misconduct proceedings in front of an independent chairman at public hearings in May, Sussex Police confirmed on Tuesday evening.

Another police officer will face internal misconduct proceedings, which are carried out in private.

No further action will be taken over five other officers investigated by the Independent of Police Conduct (IOPC), while six other force employees – three officers and three staff – have already been handed “management advice and further training”.

Michael Lane court case
Michael Lane arriving at court during his trial (PA) 

The IOPC is understood to be recommending 18 new training measures for the force when it announces the findings of its investigation on Wednesday, according to Channel 4 News.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said the force was “committed to constantly improving our understanding of stalking and our response to it”, adding: “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.”

The news came as the IOPC announced a police call handler from the force was given “management advice” after failing to record a woman’s reports of escalating violence by her ex-husband, who shot her dead eight days later – two years after Miss Grice died.

Michelle Savage spoke to Sussex Police three times before she was murdered alongside her 53-year-old mother Heather Whitbread in an execution-style killing at almost point-blank range in St Leonards on March 16 last year.

She had told officers former soldier Craig Savage was dangerous and she feared for her life.

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said of both cases that more must be done, adding: “Numerous inquests and inquiries have found that multiple police forces have failed to protect women who were murdered.

“There is a massive failing in police leadership on domestic and sexual violence which is not simply about cuts.

“The Home Secretary should call time on the promises to do better and require improvement or removal of leaders in forces where women are not being protected.”

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