Police chief who was stalked says force must do better following critical

“Stalking and harassment has a long-term and debilitating effect on victims and we will continue to make improvements to ensure people are safe and can feel safe, and bringing perpetrators to justice.”Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne, who commissioned the report, said she hoped it would improve the force’s response “dramatically” and scrutinise how other bodies were handling stalking. Ms Bourne, who is hosting a summit on stalking today in parliament, described how she was targeted in 2012, when she was running for election to the PCC post.Her stalker, Matthew Taylor, began obsessed with her and began posting highly offensive material, including branding her a paedophile, a drug dealer, a prostitute and a Nazi sympathiser.Mrs Bourne said: “He initially started as a sort of warrior for justice, a keyboard warrior.”It became very obsessive and quite intense. For about three years I sort of ignored it.”But it started to get quite personal, he started to focus on people around me, people in my office and my chief executive, making allegations that were quite upsetting.”He then started to appear at events she was at filming her and posting the material online.Ms Bourne reported the matter to the police and the allegations were referred to a neighbouring force Surrey. Shana Grice was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane despite her reporting him to police for stalking A police chief, who was a victim of stalking for five years, has said her force needs to take the crime more seriously after a critical report found cases were still not being investigated consistently or effectively.Katy Bourne, who is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, was obsessively pursued by a man after she was elected to the post in 2012.The Conservative politician said she had felt let down by the police and prosecutors when she reported the crime and was eventually forced to take out an injunction against the stalker.Now a report by the police watchdog has said her own force of Sussex still has considerable improvements to make in order to ensure victims of stalking get the support they deserve.Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) publishes its findings on Wednesday following a review into the Sussex force which records the second highest number of stalking offences in England and Wales.Ms Bourne ordered the review into the way Sussex Police handles stalking cases following the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2017. He was jailed for life for her murder in March 2017.In today’s report, inspectors called on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to ensure forces around the country make improvements in the way they handle reports of stalking.The report raised concerns that there was no single definition for stalking adopted by police forces and government departments, adding: “As a result, police forces are not consistently identifying stalking, and are not protecting victims as a result.”Police forces were also found to be not using powers under stalking laws to search perpetrators’ homes.As a result stalking investigations were “not as thorough as they could be”, and victims of harassment were not being properly protected.The report said: “We are concerned that Sussex Police’s response to victims of stalking or harassment is not always as effective and consistent as it could be. This is because not all officers have received enhanced stalking training.”The report also highlighted that not enough victims were referred to specialised support services.Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said: “The report acknowledges that we have significantly improved our understanding of what stalking and harassment is, and what our response should be. It also sets out where there is even more work to do and we accept this. But she said: “The criminal route was fruitless because the Crown Prosecution Service let me down and would not prosecute because they said there was not enough evidence.”I had five years of evidence, despite all that it wasn’t enough. It just shows agencies don’t understand the severity. Fortunately the civil route was more successful.”A civil injunction was granted in April 2017 prohibiting Mr Taylor from going near Mrs Bourne or her chief executive Mark Streater.He was also ordered not to comment about them online, to post videos or to enlist the help of others to do so on his behalf.In October last year he was found to be in contempt after breaching the order and was handed a suspended four month prison term. Shana Grice was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane despite her reporting him to police for stalking Kate Bourne, PCC for Sussex, said she felt let down by police and prosecutors following her own stalking ordealCredit:REX/Shutterstock  Miss Grice had reported Michael Lane to officers five times in six months but instead of being protected was fined for wasting police time. Kate Bourne, PCC for Sussex, said she felt let down by police and prosecutors following her own stalking ordeal Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? 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