Jump to content

Lawyers win right to protect full identity of PC in disciplinary proceedings over woman murdered by stalker


Fedster
 Share

Recommended Posts

Legal fight over how publicity could 'adversely affect' officer in case of Shana Grice who repeatedly reported stalker to police before she was killed.

Shana Grice: Died at the hands of stalker Michael Lane

Shana Grice: Died at the hands of stalker Michael Lane

Date - 10th May 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

 

A force has backed lawyers in protecting the full identity of an officer accused of ignoring a 19-year-old woman who repeatedly reported her stalker to police before she was murdered.

Disciplinary panel chairman Chiew Yin Jones has directed the Sussex Police misconduct hearing today to only refer to the officer by his rank and surname, PC Mills.

The officer's lawyers argued he would be “adversely affected” by publicity if his full name was released.

The Sussex force, which has brought the proceedings against PC Mills, supported this submission.

According to the Home Office, the chairman has a statutory power to make such a direction to the media under the Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2015.

However, the panel chairman’s direction will be challenged and a decision made later in the hearing after further legal submissions.

Last month Sussex Police, which apologised for “not having done the very best” it could in relation to the death of Shana Grice, confirmed two officers – one of whom has retired – were to attend a disciplinary hearing with a third called to internal misconduct proceedings.

Ms Grice reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to the force 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 for a minimum of 25 years for her murder in March 2017.

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 failed to “adequately investigate allegations of harassment and stalking” just over a month before Ms Grice was killed on July 9, 2016.

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.

PC Mills is also accused of failing to respond to reports made by Ms Grice days later on July 12.

Between July 13 and 15, he "failed to contact Ms Grice or update her regarding the reported incident", it is said.

On July 12, Ms Grice reported being followed in a car by Lane but no further action was taken, the trial heard.

Just two of 14 officers investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct 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.

Last month, an independent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found the force's approach to investigating stalking and harassment cases was not consistent or effective.

Inspectors made a string of recommendations on how improvements could be made by Sussex Police, which records the second highest number of stalking offences in England and Wales – doubling its total in the last 12 months.

In the last two years reports of stalking and harassment have increased by more than 40 per cent across England and Wales, HMICFRS said.

Research suggests two women are killed by a former or current partner every week across the country and stalking often escalates to murder, according to charities and campaigners.

View On Police Oracle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

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.”

It appears Miss Green doesn't fully understand the procedure for police misconduct. Is she suggesting that she would have preferred for the two officers to have kept their jobs (at the public's expense of course), and even potentially do further wrong in the meantime just so they can be subject to misconduct proceedings?

Edited by Fedster
Edited for ease of reading
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stalking probe officer's full name kept secret to protect 'family feelings' in landmark ruling

Panel chairman's 'legal precedent' backed by force while PCC remains silent.

ACC Nick May: Sussex Police 'absolutely supports the open process that has been played out'

ACC Nick May: Sussex Police 'absolutely supports the open process that has been played out' 

Date - 11th May 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
2 Comments2 Comments}

 

Policing today appeared to have closed ranks on a landmark ruling that protected the full identity of an officer accused of ignoring a 19-year-old woman who repeatedly reported her stalker to police before she was murdered.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Sussex officer argued giving the full name of ‘PC Mills’ would have an adverse effect on him and made the request with regard to the "feelings and the welfare" of his young family.

And Sussex Police – which brought the gross misconduct action against PC Mills at a disciplinary hearing at force headquarters in Lewes – supported the application in a bid to retain his privacy.

The ruling by disciplinary panel chairman Chiew Yin Jones is thought to have been the first of its kind and is understood to have potentially set a legal precedent.

Force solicitor Louise Ravenscroft told the misconduct hearing it was "not in the public interest" to fully identify the officer involved and added that it should be to PC Mills's "credit" that he did not ask for his full name to be withheld.

The restriction was granted by disciplinary panel chairman Mr Yin Jones – a CPS district Crown prosecutor who was appointed and funded by Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne, who herself has spoken out about being a victim of stalking.

Ms Bourne has refused to comment on the hearing or the direction made by the panel to withhold the officer's full name.

The force initially decided to restrict the number of press entering the hearing – claiming there was not enough space – but eventually allowed all present representatives to attend proceedings.

The press argued there was "substantial public interest" in fully and openly reporting the proceedings and properly identifying the officer.

Media organisations argued the submissions did not meet the legal threshold for a restriction as they would not adversely affect the ability for the proceedings to go ahead.

Asked why the force supported the request, Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said after the hearing: "We respect the decision of the chairman.

"We absolutely support the open process that's been played out today.

"I think it's for the public to make up their own minds how they feel about this.

"Sussex Police goes along with the guidelines, we support the open process."

View On Police Oracle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Stalking probe officer's full name no longer a secret

Two weeks after panel chairman's 'legal precedent' is backed by force, policing's barred list reveals all.

Shana Grice: Died at the hands of stalker Michael Lane

Shana Grice: Died at the hands of stalker Michael Lane

Date - 29th May 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
1 Comment1 Comment}

 

Legal attempts to protect an officer and his young family after he was accused of ignoring a 19-year-old woman who repeatedly reported her stalker to police before she was murdered have failed.

The full name of the Sussex officer has now been published on the Police Barred List.

PC Jon Barry Mills left the force on May 10 after failing to “adequately investigate allegations of harassment and stalking, including a failure to review all possible evidence”, the College of Policing said.

He is effectively banned from future duty within the service.

Earlier this month lawyers acting on behalf of the officer appeared to have successfully prevented the full name of ‘PC Mills’ appearing – arguing it would have an adverse effect on him and with regard to the "welfare" of his family.

And Sussex Police – which brought the gross misconduct action against PC Mills at a disciplinary hearing at force headquarters in Lewes – supported the application in a bid to retain his privacy.

The ruling by disciplinary panel chairman Chiew Yin Jones was thought to have been the first of its kind and is understood to have potentially set a legal precedent.

Force solicitor Louise Ravenscroft told the misconduct hearing it was "not in the public interest" to fully identify the officer involved and added that it should be to PC Mills's "credit" that he did not ask for his full name to be withheld.

The restriction was granted by disciplinary panel chairman Mr Yin Jones – a CPS district Crown prosecutor who was appointed and funded by Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne, who herself has spoken out about being a victim of stalking.

The force initially decided to restrict the number of press entering the hearing – claiming there was not enough space – but eventually allowed all present representatives to attend proceedings.

Asked why the force supported the request, Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said after the hearing: "We respect the decision of the chairman.

"We absolutely support the open process that's been played out today.

"I think it's for the public to make up their own minds how they feel about this.

"Sussex Police goes along with the guidelines, we support the open process."

In an entry published on its register of officers banned from duty, the College added that PC Mills “failed to respond to a report of harassment and stalking made by victim and failed to contact or update her regarding the reported incident”.

The body publishes the register names to improve “integrity” and “accountability” as well as to “further the transparency” of the disciplinary system, it claims.

Panel chairman Mr Yin Jones said both allegations of gross misconduct were found to be proven against PC Mills and his actions may have “ultimately contributed in the circumstances which contributed to the tragic death of Ms Grice”.

Had he not resigned, he would have been dismissed, the panel said, as they barred him from ever working as a police officer again. But he can keep his pension.

The “frightened” 19-year-old reported ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to officers five times in six months but was fined for wasting police time.

The case was closed before her pleas for help were properly investigated.

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 a week before the hearing took place, denied failing to investigate two of her reports just over a month before she was killed.

Ms Grice told officers she was too scared to leave her house as a result of Lane’s stalking.

On July 9, 2016, Ms Grice rang police after discovering Lane had stolen a house key and crept into her bedroom while she slept.

He was arrested but PC Mills, an officer for 16 years, did not review case notes about their history before questioning him, even though he was experienced in interviewing suspects almost every day.

The constable questioned Lane for just 12 minutes before cautioning him, despite having attended a training course about stalking, harassment and interview techniques just a day earlier.

When questioned, he told the Independent Office for Police Conduct the case was not his priority and he found Lane’s story “plausible” even though he was “alarmed” by his behaviour.

No-one from the force ever called Ms Grice back after she reported Lane again days later on July 12 for following her in his car. She stopped reporting him after that.

View on police oracle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...