Tackling Racist Incidents - A Toolkit for Scottish Housing Providers

Section 3. Model Policy

Model Policy Statement

We value all of our tenants and are committed to enabling them to live safely and securely within their homes. However, we recognise that some tenants, particularly those from black and minority ethnic communities, are more likely to experience racial harassment. Therefore, this policy statement outlines how we deal with racial harassment and how our tenants and other agencies can support us in challenging racial as well as other forms of harassment.

This Housing Department/Association/Co-operative is committed to ensuring that our tenants can live in safety and security within their homes and neighbourhood. We recognise that all tenants, regardless of their racial group, may experience neighbour disputes, anti-social behaviour or vandalism. However, we also recognise that racial harassment can be far more insidious based as it is on assumptions and stereotypes, prejudice and hate.

We will take action against tenants who we have grounds to believe are carrying out racially motivated attacks or harassment. Such acts may be physical or verbal and would include:

•  interfering with the peace and comfort of the victim

•  causing nuisance or annoyance to the victim

•  causing the victim to fear for his or her safety

We will:

•  deal vigorously with racial attacks and harassment

•  work in partnership with other agencies to create an environment which encourages racial harmony

•  use every available legal action against perpetrators, including prosecution and eviction

•  provide practical support for Victims of racial harassment to protect them from further harassment and identify and take action against the perpetrators of harassment.

•  regularly monitor incidents of racial harassment, record follow-up measures and review the effectiveness of the procedure.

•  seek feedback from tenants individually and collectively to learn from our experience of handling cases and to publicise our commitment to and arrangements for combating all harassment

•  engage specific measures to support those who may be especially vulnerable as a result of their isolation


3.1 Victim-Centred Approach

Where the victim believes that the harassment is racially motivated, the investigation will begin from that premise and explore all avenues for evidence to substantiate this belief. We will adopt the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry definition of a racist incident when making investigations [see section 1.2].

3.2 Investigation

We will investigate complaints received in person or by letter or by phone with the minimum of delay between receiving the complaint and a formal interview of the victim being carried out. If the victim prefers to speak in their first language, we will follow best practice when arranging a qualified interpreter to assist in the interview. [see section 1.12] .

3.3 Action against perpetrators

It is our policy to take firm action against any tenant perpetrating racial harassment including interdicts, anti social behaviour orders, prosecution for criminal damages, seeking compensation from the perpetrators for damage to property and supporting victims if they seek compensation, and the ultimate sanction of eviction. We will take practical measures to identify the alleged perpetrators of racial harassment, especially where the harassment has taken place over a sustained period of six months or more.


3.4 Property Repairs

We will treat repairs, including the removal of graffiti, arising as a result of racial harassment as an emergency, and where possible will provide such additional security measures as are necessary. Where the perpetrators have been identified we will charge the cost of any repairs to them.

3.5 Re-housing of Victims

We will offer emergency re-housing where there is serious damage to the property or serious injury (or the threat of injury) to the tenant or members of the tenant's household. We recognise that victims of harassment may wish to move from the property/area where problems are being experienced. We will deal with each case sensitively and on its merits based on all of the evidence that it is possible to gather.


Challenging Racial Harassment

We will be proactive in working to prevent the racial harassment of our tenants. In doing so we accept responsibility for the role which we will play, but recognise that the impact of a housing provider is limited and recognise the role of the following organisations:

The Role of Our Tenants

Tenants who live near Victims of racial harassment can play an important role in helping to support Victims. They can establish a climate where harassment is unacceptable. This can help deter perpetrators.

The Role of Tenants Associations

Local tenants' organisations will be required to become involved in developing strategies to help counter racial attacks. We will discuss and develop our policies with tenants' associations to obtain their support and to agree a common front in tackling harassment. For our part, we will provide reasonable training as needed, to enable Tenants Associations to play a full part. For their part, the involvement of Tenants Association in combating racial harassment will be a condition of receiving Housing Association funding.

The Role of Other Agencies

We will work with other agencies, including the police and community support agencies to ensure that evidence is gathered which satisfies legal requirements. We will also ensure that systematic records of all complaints and decisions taken in relation to complaints are kept.

We will ensure that the victim is kept fully informed of the course of the investigation and the choices available, involving her or him fully in the decision-making processes.

We will ensure that any third parties / contractors we employ adopt this or other acceptable policies covering anti-discrimination and racial harassment and will make this a contractual obligation.


Training

We will make all our employees and management committee members aware of the policy. We will provide all employees with on-going support and guidance along with training in the actions they should take in cases of racial harassment. We will monitor the effectiveness of this training.

Monitoring the Policy

All incidents will be recorded, monitored and treated in confidence. Reports will be presented to the relevant housing committee on a regular basis, and treated in confidence. This will include third party reporting. Accurate records will be maintained on an on-going basis and will include agreed support and follow-up measures.

Review

This policy will be continuously monitored and reviewed annually.



This toolkit will be continually updated to provide the latest best practice tips and training on offer.
See the latest version at www.challengeracism.com

Challenge Racism Toolkit is by Positive Action in Housing 2007



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