Section 1. Overview
Using the Lawrence definition of a racist incident during an investigation does not prejudge the alleged perpetrator's intention. After thorough investigation of an incident it may be clear that the harassment is not racially motivated. But using a victim-centred approach ensures that any racial motivation is fully considered while the incident is investigated.
In implementing the harassment policy, respect the victim's belief that the incident was racially motivated unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.
Put the victim's interests at the centre of any investigation. Addressing personal safety issues are a first priority. Ensure the victim is fully involved and informed at every stage.
Ensure your investigation is sympathetic and sensitive to the victim's needs. Remember: it is not your job to provide counselling. The most effective thing you can do is to take prompt and effective action to end the harassment.
Ensure that you provide the victim with all the possible options so that s/he is able to make an informed choice about possible courses of action.Do not proceed against the victim's wishes. Seek agreement before taking any action or involving other agencies. Confidentiality should be protected unless agreed otherwise.
Care should be taken when making first contact with victims of racial harassment, particularly when the initial report has been received from a third party source or witness. This is a complex area with much guidance available in the following sources:
Discussion of any action should be accompanied with a written action plan and a support pack. This support pack could take various forms but should contain information informing your tenant of:
how to record and report incidents;
what happens next, what they can expect from you, including timescales;
information and timescales on emergency repairs and re-housing;
practical advice on personal and home safety;
contacts for local support groups;
details of your complaints procedures.
Consider translating this into the main languages of your tenants.A best practice example from Bristol City Council can be downloaded here .
Further information from Bristol is available at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/
Another best practice example from Exeter City Council can be downloaded here .
Both the victim and witnesses should be given the name of a member of staff whom they will be able to contact throughout the investigation for up-to-date information and support. Keep in touch and check if there have been further incidents.When interviewing someone who does not have English as a first language, ask if they wish to have an interpreter. More information on working with interpreters is available in section 1.12.