St Leonards double murder: police vow to improve service to victims of harassment

Sussex Police said it has taken action to improve its service to victims of stalking and harassment in response to a report which investigated the force’s contact with a St Leonards woman who was murdered by her ex partner.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 5:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 5:57 pm
Michelle Savage and Heather Whitbread were shot by Craig Savage in March 2018
Michelle Savage and Heather Whitbread were shot by Craig Savage in March 2018

The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) report, published on Tuesday (9 April) investigated Sussex Police’s contact with Michelle and Craig Savage prior to Michelle’s tragic death in March last year.

Michelle and her mother Heather Whitbread were fatally shot by Michelle’s ex-husband Craig Savage at their home in St Leonards in March 2018.

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Michelle Savage and Heather Whitbread were shot by Craig Savage in March 2018

Sussex Police, which took action on the organisational and management issues raised by this case, said it ‘fully accepted’ the learning recommendations of the IOPC report.

Flowers were left outside the house

It said as a result all staff have been reminded of their responsibilities to complete the Domestic Abuse Stalking and Honour based violence (DASH) or Stalking-DASH risk assessments when investigating and identifying stalking patterns of behaviour.

Following the investigation, a call handler received management advice for breaching standards in not completing a list of actions set out for them and failing to record the more recent allegations of harassment Michelle made, according to Sussex Police.

Sussex Police said more than 50 officers and staff across Sussex, who have had enhanced training in recognising and dealing with stalking and harassment, are now on hand to offer advice and support on a daily basis in investigation units and in the force’s control centre, on how to spot signs of stalking.

Frontline officers and staff have also received additional training and this will continue with new all recruits and those joining investigation teams.

Force stalking lead, Detective Chief Inspector David Springett said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Michelle and Heather following their tragic deaths. We accept the learning recommendations from the IOPC and our work to reinforce officers’ knowledge of responsibilities is well underway.

“All reports of stalking are taken extremely seriously. Enhanced training and awareness and improved support to victims has led to more victims feeling confident to come forward. We will continue to work to improve our service to keep people safe and feeling safe.”