PC to face disciplinary proceedings over woman murdered by stalker
A constable accused of ignoring a 19-year-old woman who repeatedly reported her stalker to police before she was murdered is to face a public disciplinary hearing.
Shana Grice reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to Sussex Police officers five times in six months but was fined for wasting police time.
On August 25 2016, Lane slit her throat before trying to burn her body. He was jailed in 2017 for a minimum of 25 years.
PC Mills – who resigned from the force last week – faces two discreditable conduct allegations in proceedings at force headquarters in Lewes on Friday.
The force said the officer – so far known only by his rank and surname in a bid by lawyers to protect his privacy – failed to “adequately investigate allegations of harassment and stalking” just over a month before Ms Grice was killed on July 9 2016.
PC Mills is also accused of failing to respond to reports made by Ms Grice days later on July 12.
During Lane’s trial, the court heard during this time he stole a key and crept into her room while she slept and followed her in a car.
Just two of 14 officers investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over Ms Grice’s death are to be made the subject of publicly held disciplinary proceedings. Both left the force before the hearings were due to take place.
PC Trevor Godfrey, who retired from duty in December 2017, was due to face allegations of discreditable conduct earlier in the week but the hearing was postponed until further notice, the force said.
The force claims on March 25 2016, after interviewing Lane, PC Godfrey “concluded that Ms Grice was dishonest and failed to treat her as a victim, instead warning her about wasting police time”.
Next week a misconduct meeting for another police officer will be carried out in private.
Three more officers and three staff have already been handed “management advice and further training” while no further action will be taken over the other five officers investigated.
Her parents Sharon Grice and Richard Green, who are considering legal action against the force, said their daughter was treated “like a criminal” rather than being protected and she “paid for the police’s lack of training, care and poor attitude with her life”.
Their lawyer Andy Petherbridge, of Hudgell Solicitors, said individual officers still had “serious questions to answer about their conduct towards Shana” and her family wanted to attend the proceedings “to see what the officers themselves have got to say”.
Last month an independent report found the force’s approach to investigating stalking and harassment cases was not consistent or effective.
Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, called on police chiefs to take action to ensure “another woman is not murdered in this way”.
She added: “It’s extremely disappointing that the two police officers will not be serving officers when these proceedings go ahead.
“It remains extremely important that these proceedings are open to the public and that everybody can hear exactly what went wrong and who made what decision and what lessons can be learned.”
Suky Bhaker, acting chief executive of stalking charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “When failings by police, whether individual officers or more systematically across a force, allow stalking to continue and the risk to escalate, then those responsible for failing to protect the victim must be held to account.”
The force said it cannot comment ahead of the proceedings.