Ex-detective reiterates calls for Derbyshire’s Chief Constable to be ‘brought to book’ in wake of Gracie Spinks’ death

A retired Derbyshire police detective has tonight reiterated his calls for the county’s Chief Constable to be ‘brought to book’ over the death of Gracie Spinks.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 7:57 pm

Roger Bowler, who joined the force in 1972 and worked as a detective before retiring in 1998, spoke after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – which is investigating Derbyshire Constabulary in the wake of Gracie’s death – revealed five officers had been served with disciplinary notices.

Gracie, 23, of Chesterfield, was found dead in Duckmanton on June 18 – four months after she contacted police to make an allegation of stalking about her suspected killer, 35-year-old Sheffield man Michael Sellers, whose body was also discovered that day.

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Chesterfield's Gracie Spinks, left, and Rachel Swann, Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary.

The IOPC said it had served a gross misconduct notice on a police sergeant and misconduct notices on two constables over what steps they took after a bag – containing a hammer, an axe and some knives – was found in May near where Gracie died.

The watchdog also served misconduct notices on a separate police sergeant and constable concerning how the investigation into Gracie’s stalking allegation was handled.

Derbyshire Constabulary said it was ‘fully’ co-operating with the IOPC’s ongoing investigation and added that the force had implemented ‘a number of improvements’ recently.

Last month, Mr Bowler told the Derbyshire Times that he thought Chief Constable Rachel Swann should 'go now' in light of Gracie's death.

Reacting to the IOPC’s update on Friday, the 70-year-old, of Clay Cross, said: “It appears we are only going after the small fish, while the whales swim safely away.

“As previously stated, I have no confidence that the Chief Constable is fit for purpose.

“She should be brought to book on the force’s behalf.”

A Derbyshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “We continue to support and fully co-operate with the IOPC investigation into the circumstances leading up to the tragic death of Gracie.

“We are keeping the IOPC up-to-date with a number of improvements we have implemented in recent months and we would encourage all victims of stalking and harassment to report incidents to us for investigation.”

Earlier this year, Ms Swann – who became the top boss of Derbyshire Constabulary last year – admitted officers had ‘let down’ Derbyshire murder victims and their families.

In a video message to staff, she said ‘simple errors are being made’ and that in some cases ‘we are not doing what we should’.

She called for ‘drastic changes’ in how the organisation operates, adding: “Get it right first time.

“Because in the cases of those we have let down, they don't get any second chances.”

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) have the power to dismiss Chief Constables.

Derbyshire's PCC, Angelique Foster, previously told the Derbyshire Times: “The police’s role is to keep people safe and protect them from harm.

“This is the most important part of the job – it is what people expect and deserve.

“The Chief Constable has been very clear that she feels the force must make improvements in relation to the way in which it protects those most at risk.

“I strongly support that view – and I will keep a very close watch on progress made against the force’s improvement plans.”

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