The changes made by Sussex Police in response to the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice is too little, too late, say her family.
The family are responding to the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) report this week about the changes made by Sussex Police in the wake of the 19-year-old’s death.
Shana was killed by her former stalker boyfriend in August 2016, despite repeatedly reporting her concerns to Sussex Police. Instead, officers gave Ms Grice a penalty notice for wasting their time. Five months later she was dead.
In a statement issued through Hudgell Solicitors, Shana’s parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green, say:
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 sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Shana. At his trial, the judge, Mr Justice Green, was scathing of Sussex Police’s treatment of Ms 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 says: “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.”
Andy Petherbridge added that three police officers are facing misconduct proceedings for the way they handled Ms Grice’s complaints about Lane: “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. The family have received a copy of the report.