Officers face disciplinary action after teen fined for 'wasting police time' was killed by stalker
19-year-old Shana Grice from Brighton, England, reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to the Sussex Police five times within a six month period in 2016. The officers responded by fining her £90 ($117.82), for "wasting police time." That same year, Lane killed Grice by slitting her throat in her bedroom and tried to burn the body, per The Independent.
Lane was given a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison in March 2017. During the trial, disturbing details emerged about the case that sparked a public outcry for police to take victims seriously: Lane followed Grice by attaching a tracker to her car, stole a key from Grice to sneak inside her home while she slept, and was reported to the police by 13 other women for stalking.
Following an investigation by police watchdog group the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), three officers will face disciplinary action, BBC News reports. Two police officers, including one who is retired, will face disciplinary action in gross misconduct proceedings at a public hearing, while a third will face internal misconduct action. In addition, six employees at Sussex Police - three officers and three staffers - were given "management advice and further training."
At Lane's sentencing, Justice Nicholas Green reportedly said that officers "jumped to conclusions" and made the fatal mistake of "stereotyping" Grice. "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," Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said. "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."
While IOPC's conclusions have been widely praised, the news comes as cold comfort to the victim's parents, Sharon Grice and Richard Green. "Our daughter took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected, was treated like a criminal," they said. "She paid for the police’s lack of training, care, and poor attitude with her life. It’s only right the police make changes, but it’s too little, too late for Shana. Sussex Police should not be applauded for this."
According to Sarah Green, the co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, law enforcement officials are not doing enough in the wake of Shana's killing. "The police watchdog findings that Sussex Police failed and that there will be misconduct hearings are welcome, but much more is needed," Green said. "Numerous inquests and inquiries have found that multiple police forces have failed to protect women who were murdered."
An independent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found that police forces did not often refer victims to specialized services, exercise their powers to seek injunctions or investigate alleged perpetrators.
Britain's Office for National Statistics reported that 7.2 percent of adults experienced stalking victimization between March 2017 and March 2018, while an estimated 7.5 million people are stalked during a single year in the United States, according to The National Center for Victims of Crime.