Tackling Racist Incidents - A Toolkit for Scottish Housing Providers

Section 4. Model Procedure

4.3 Further Investigation

The investigating officer should interview any witnesses using the witness report form RH5 within 1-2 working days of interviewing the victim and continue to gather good quality evidence for use in any action against perpetrators. If any relevant information or evidence arises from these interviews, the action plan might need amending in discussion with the victim. Any interviews with alleged perpetrator(s) should be organised within a further 2 days.

Action where the alleged perpetrator is a tenant of another organisation

If the alleged perpetrator has been identified beyond reasonable doubt and they are a tenant of another housing provider, a full report should be sent to the landlord requesting appropriate action, with the permission of the victim.

Action where the alleged perpetrator is unknown

If the victim does not know who the perpetrator is, the housing provider should make every effort to find out who was involved including from interviewing any witnesses. If the victim has agreed that the police should be informed, they too should make all possible investigations including requesting CTV footage. Regular contact should be maintained with the police investigating the case.

Where the alleged perpetrator is a tenant of the organisation

With the agreement of the victim, the alleged perpetrator may be contacted and interviewed. Consideration should be given to the location of the interview and the presence of an additional staff member during the interview - one member to carry out the interview, the other to record it.

At the interview, with the alleged perpetrator(s) the investigating officer should:

•  explain the nature of the complaint

•  explain the provider's policy

•  ask the alleged perpetrator for his/her comments

Full guidance on interviewing an alleged perpetrator is available on www.raceactionnet.co.uk

The intention of the interview is to discover the alleged perpetrator's side of events and to help prevent any further incidents. This should be made clear in the interview.

The interview should be noted using the Alleged Perpetrator Interview Form RH6. A meeting should then be held with senior members of staff to draw up a detailed programme of action in respect of the alleged perpetrator. The programme might involve:

•  warning letters and interviews, varying in severity;

•  charging the perpetrator for damage to the provider's property;

•  instituting legal proceedings, with the agreement of the victim.

•  referral for police investigation

Where the investigating officer has grounds to believe that the alleged perpetrator was responsible for the harassment a follow up letter should be sent within one day of the interview confirming the discussion that took place, re-stating relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement and the organisation's objectives to stop harassment, support the person being harassed and take action against alleged perpetrators.

A follow-up letter to the victim may also be required at this time to confirm any action taken to deal with the complaint and to propose a date and time to meet in order to review the situation if necessary.

The following might act as a checklist at this stage:

•  Obtain advice at an early stage if it looks as if legal action may be required. Maintain close liaison with solicitors experienced in dealing with cases of racial harassment.

•  Gather a high standard of evidence, including statements and photographic evidence - liaise with the police and consider the use of surveillance equipment, professional witnesses and private investigators if necessary.
Some organisations report that replacing 'yellow' bulbs in street or common area lighting with brighter 'white' bulbs has allowed them to collect better quality, more useful CCTV images

•  Encourage victims to keep diary sheets and take photographic evidence of injuries or damage if possible.

•  Be prepared to use verbal and written warnings and to charge alleged perpetrators for damage. Seek an ASBO or interim ASBO if necessary but be guided by the victim's wishes.

•  If perpetrators are unknown, consider a more general warning letter, surveillance; preventative work; involvement of tenants associations.

•  Liaise with the police to see if they would be willing to visit local residents and increase their presence in the area.



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