Gracie Spinks: IOPC watchdog says five Derbyshire police officers have “cases to answer” and should face misconduct meetings

Police watchdog the Office for Police Conduct says misconduct meetings should be brought against five Derbyshire officers over their handling of the Gracie Spinks stalking case.

Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 1:16 pm

The IOPC says three of the officers should be hauled before bosses for their conduct relating to the discovery of a bag containing a hammer, an axe and some knives, in May last near the Duckmanton stables where Gracie, 23, was found murdered just weeks later.

A further two officers also “have a case to answer for misconduct” over their contact with Gracie and her family in the months leading up to her death on June 18, 2021, say the IOPC.

Gracie, of Old Whittington, contacted Derbyshire Constabulary in February 2021 about stalker Michael Sellars – who was harassing her in and out of work and is believed to have fatally stabbed her.

Chesterfield's Gracie Spinks with her beloved horse Paddy.

Though officers spoke with Sellars, Gracie’s family say police missed several blaring alarm bells which may have saved her life, had they been properly followed up on by officers.

The IPOC said: “Our investigation considered whether the force complied with its safeguarding obligations to Ms Spinks and whether its investigation into the stalking matter was carried out in accordance with relevant police guidelines and policies.

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"We also looked into the actions and decision making of police officers following the discovery of a bag, containing a hammer, an axe and some knives, in May last year.

Chesterfield's much-loved Gracie Spinks. Pictures kindly provided by her family.

"The bag had been found close to where Ms Spinks died several weeks later, and its discovery was reported to the police.

"Based on the evidence assessed we concluded that in relation to the stalking investigation two officers have a case to answer for misconduct.

"A further three officers have a case to answer for misconduct in relation to the bag discovery.

"We have determined that disciplinary proceedings in the form of a misconduct meeting should be brought against each officer.”

IOPC Regional Director, Derrick Campbell said arrangements for misconduct meetings to proceed were now the responsibility of Derbyshire Constabulary.

He added: “Due to an impending inquest it would be inappropriate for us to share any further details at this time.

"We will publish our findings once these proceedings have concluded.

“We have kept Gracie’s family informed and have shared the results of our investigation with them. Our thoughts remain with them ahead of the first anniversary of Gracie’s death.”

Derbyshire Police said the misconduct meetings would be held in private.

Misconduct “meetings” are understood to attract less harsh sanctions than the more serious misconduct “hearings” - which are held in cases of gross misconduct.

Officers can face dismissal for gross misconduct but misconduct can result in nothing more than a written warning.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary said: “We can confirm that five officers will be subject to a misconduct meeting following an Independent Office for Police Conduct independent investigation into police contact with Gracie Spinks, prior to her murder in June 2021.

"We are not in a position to comment further until these proceedings are complete.”

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