Sussex Police and national organisations make progress in their handling of stalking and harassment cases
Sussex Police’s approach to stalking and harassment incidents has improved since a previous inspection was undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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Sussex Police’s approach to stalking and harassment incidents has improved since a previous inspection was undertaken by HMICFRS.
Despite these improvements, however, there are still problems which mean that stalking and harassment cases are not always investigated effectively. Additionally, many victims of these crimes do not receive the support they require. We have made further recommendations for Sussex Police to improve.
HMICFRS and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) first carried out an inspection into the police and Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) response to stalking and harassment between 2016 and 2017. Sussex Police was one of six forces visited as part of the inspection.
As a result of that inspection, the inspectorates made recommendations for improvement to the police and the CPS. Following several concerns, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex requested that HMICFRS return to carry out a follow-up inspection of Sussex Police in 2018. The report published today details the findings of that inspection.
HMI Wendy Williams said:
“We found that Sussex Police has made some significant improvements to the way that it deals with stalking and harassment crimes. In particular, the force has now increased its recording of stalking cases by 98 percent.
“There is still work the force has to do, however. Despite some cases being dealt with well, there were still more that could have been handled better. Following the murder of Shana Grice, the force developed a stalking and harassment improvement plan. This is a positive step and the force needs to continue to develop this and ensure that all victims receive an appropriate and consistent service.
“We have now made further recommendations for the force to respond to. I am encouraged by the commitment we have already seen from the force but want to see further improvements to the service it provides to victims of stalking and harassment.”
As part of HMICFRS’s ongoing monitoring of the recommendations it made to the police and other bodies in 2017, we have also reviewed progress against these in our report. We found that national organisations have also taken positive steps towards improving their response to stalking and harassment cases, but again more work needs to be done.
HMI Wendy Williams added:
“In the past two years, reports of stalking and harassment have increased by more than 40 per cent across England and Wales. While it is positive that forces are better at identifying crimes of this nature it highlights the scale of the problem, and the need for an effective and consistent solution.
“We are committed to encouraging further progress, and have made recommendations for national bodies, such as suggesting the need to develop a single definition of stalking, to help better identify and protect victims.”
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- In 2017, HMICFRS and HMCPSI published a report into the police and the CPS’s response to stalking and harassment. Sussex Police was one of the forces inspected. The report contained a list of recommendations for improvement.
- In 2018, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex invited HMICFRS to carry out a subsequent inspection of Sussex Police, to ascertain how the force had implemented the 2017 report’s recommendations.
- Shana Grice was murdered by her partner in 2016 after he had stalked her. Sussex Police referred itself to the IOPC (then IPCC) for its handling of the case. Following an inquiry into the force, Sussex Police accepted recommendations from the IOPC in relation to how it should improve its response to cases of stalking and harassment.
- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire & rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire & rescue services.
- HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also inspects all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
- For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.
- 8. HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services.