Section 1. Overview
A Glasgow University study found that up to 80% of racist incidents are not being reported to Strathclyde Police. The report identified a lack of trust or confidence in the police as a major deterrent to reporting.
Many service users approaching Positive Action in Housing for assistance have suffered racist abuse for months yet have not reported it to the police or landlord. When asked why, caseworkers are most often told "they don't take it seriously" or "nothing is ever done about it".
Those that have newly arrived in this country are often unaware of what racial harassment is or how to report it when it happens (Positive Action in Housing Annual Report 2006).
To overcome these barriers you must:
Recognise that people are unlikely to report racist incidents unless they believe that your organisation is competent to tackle racist behaviour effectively and is committed to using its power and resources to do so.
Be proactive in identifying racial harassment. You can improve the investigation of all harassment by asking open ended questions that may allow those reporting harassment to identify the racial element i.e. “is there any reason why you think you are being harassed”
Recognise also that race hate crime will occur in all multiracial communities, whether in urban or rural areas. Expect to receive complaints from your tenants. If you don't, find out why, and whether you are getting the true picture.
Consider setting a target to increase the number of racist incidents reported . Given the tendency toward under-reporting, increasing numbers of reports should not automatically be seen as an indication that the level of harassment is getting worse (although landlords should of course investigate spikes in reports). A rise in reports may reflect greater confidence by tenants that something will be done and may be an initial indicator of success.
One long term target may be that all incidents of racial harassment are reported, the numbers of which may be used as a performance indicator. For a typical social landlord an initial target to increase reports by 25% over the first year would be realistic and a useful first step. This could be replaced over time by more sophisticated measures focusing on outcomes of cases and the action taken.
Develop and participate in local networks of "third party reporting" and where victims may be more willing to report incidents. For example, Positive Action in Housing has a third party reporting agreement with Strathclyde Police so that individuals can complain to caseworkers who will forward complaints to police and liaise on the victims' behalf.
Remember that anyone can report an incident as racially motivated: the victim, a witness, a friend or family member.See also section 1.5 on 'making your organisation's stance on racial harassment clear'