ALL stalking and harassment cases handled by Sussex Police will be investigated in the wake of Shana Grice’s murder.

The inquiry by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is to take place later this year after Michael Lane was found guilty of killing the 19-year-old.

Shana had reported Lane to the police five times in six months about his stalking but was fined for wasting police time.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne commissioned the inspection to make sure the force’s approach “improves dramatically”.

The news comes as Brighton-based charity Veritas Justice claims victims are being “fobbed off” by officers on a regular basis.

Charity director and co-founder Sam Taylor said: “This is typical for victims we speak to. This case gives a clear message this behaviour is not being taken seriously. I hope the inspection does some good but we often hear lessons need to be learned and things keep happening.”

Fellow charity co-founder Claudia Miles said: “This is happening every day in Sussex. They completely missed the bigger picture. The police are respecting ‘perfect’ victims but people’s lives are complex. They need to be believed.”

They called for specialist officers and more cases to be seen through to prosecution.

The conduct of officers and staff was called into question when Lane was jailed for 25 years last week for the murder of Miss Grice at her home in Chrisdory Road, Portslade, on August 25 last year.

His stalking included fitting a tracker to her car and sneaking into her room.

Comments made by Judge Nicholas Green that officers “jumped to conclusions” and “stereotyped” the former Hove Park student are being considered as part of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into how 12 staff handled her complaints.

Ms Bourne believes the force has already taken steps to improve and wants the inspection to take note of any changes made. She said: “We cannot afford to get it wrong. It is very difficult for officers if they don’t understand and appreciate the severity of the crime. That’s why training is really important.”

Figures show Sussex Police received 216 reports of stalking last year but Veritas believes this vastly underestimates the true picture. Victims reported incidents to police 16 times in the month Shana Grice was killed.

Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “We accept we can always do more to ensure we fully train all frontline staff to understand the impact on victims and the use of the relevant legislation to better protect them. We are much improved now at recognising stalking and the impact and dangers posed by domestic abuse than we were.”


TWO women are killed by a former or current partner every single week across the country.

In Sussex, more than 200 reports of stalking were made to police last year and charities say these types of cases can often escalate to murder.

At the end of last week’s trial, when Michael Lane was found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend Shana Grice, outraged charity bosses called for change in the way police handle complaints.

They said patterns of behaviour must not go unnoticed and officers should be better trained to make sure they take victims seriously.

Singer Lily Allen, who was stalked for seven years, even branded the case an example of police “continuing to ignore” warning signs of stalking and harassment.

Police cannot comment while the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ongoing. But deputy chief constable Bernie O’Reilly apologised to Miss Grice’s family and admitted the force may not have done the “very best” it could.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne thinks the force has already improved its approach.

Her office donated £10,000 to help set up the Brighton-based charity Veritas Justice and gave more than £9,000 to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to set up a project to help stalking victims in Sussex.

Veritas Justice said it speaks to victims like Miss Grice on a daily basis. The charity is directed by solicitor Claudia Miles and lecturer Sam Taylor, who was stalked by her former partner. They want to work more closely with the police and think the force and the Crown Prosecution Service should try harder to convict stalkers.

Ms Taylor said: “We hosted an awareness event in November 2015. There were lots of police officers there. We’re just wondering where this information has gone. Shana Grice started reporting stalking four months later and by August she was dead. This case gives a clear message that this behaviour is not being taken seriously. Victims are being fobbed off and the incidents are being dealt with in isolation or recorded under other crimes like theft or criminal damage.

“We even get fobbed off by the police. Even domestic abuse services don’t recognise stalking.

“Shana was assessed as a low risk victim but there were high risk factors in Lane’s behaviour. It is not just physical abuse but emotional abuse as well. We are speaking to people who have been stalked 15 years. Stalkers do not give up.

“She reported him on five occasions. He demonstrated some of the signs himself – suicidal thoughts often lead to homicide. He was completely unmoved in court.

“We hear it time and time again. It’s the never ending response that police do not have enough resources.”

Ms Miles questioned whether Miss Grice would have been taken more seriously if she were male.

Rachel Griffin, chief executive of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said she hoped the case served as a “wake-up call”. She said: “Her death is all the more tragic because it might have been prevented. This appalling case brings into sharp focus the urgent need for specialist stalking services to be rolled out.

“Sadly, Shana’s story is far from isolated, yet fewer than one per cent of reported stalking cases result in a conviction.”

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said the police response to domestic violence was “woefully inadequate”.

She said change must take place – like a mandatory arrest and charge policy. She added: “Domestic violence is a life and death issue. Police must learn from recurring failures and be trained to listen to and believe women when they say they are frightened of their partners.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “If Shana’s complaints had been taken seriously she may have been able to get the right help at the right time.”


SOME 40 per cent of domestic homicide victims were stalked before being killed, according to police figures.

This was revealed in research carried out by the Metropolitan Police into domestic homicides – killings carried out by lovers, former partners or those related to the victim – as part of work by the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2003.

In 2009, figures suggested one in two domestic stalkers would act on a threat they had made.

It is believed one in five women and one in ten men will endure stalking in their lifetime but campaigners say this is underestimated.

The National Stalking Helpline, run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, found the majority of victims it spoke to were women and most perpetrators were men.

Brighton-based charity Veritas Justice said all the people it supports are female and 70 per cent of cases involved stalking by an ex-partner. Sussex Police are involved in only half of the cases the charity is handling but the force did refer victims to the service in 12 per cent of cases.

More than 200 incidents of stalking were reported to the force last year.

Between 2009 and 2012, data from the crime survey of England and Wales found 700,000 women were stalked. Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service revealed 743 stalking offences were prosecuted in 2013 to 2014. Out of more than 61,000 allegations of harassment recorded by police, only 9,792 were prosecuted.

Veritas Justice said that meant only one per cent of stalking cases and 16 per cent of harassment cases recorded resulted in a charge and prosecution.

Victims do not tend to report stalking to the police until the 100th incident and half of victims stopped work because of the crime, according to research in 2005.

  • For help and advice call Veritas Justice on 01273 766633 or visit Contact the national stalking helpline run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on 0808 802 0300.