The Roles of the Agencies
5.1. The voluntary sector and wider community
5.1.1. Voluntary organisations can play an important role in implementing an anti - racial harassment policy. Some groups provide services which more frequently bring them into contact with issues around racial harassment, however, all should be aware of the problem and the support available and have a referral policy that can meet the needs of victims.
5.1.2. Some groups such as Victim Support and the Citizens Advice Bureau can provide practical support and advice to victims, encourage victims to report incidents and help to raise awareness of the problem generally within the wider community.
5.1.3. The main voluntary group in the Borough supporting the ethnic minority community is the Ethnic Minority Advocacy Group (EMAG). EMAG was set up with the specific remit to represent members of ethnic minority communities on the adequacy and appropriateness of service provision in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and to identify need. It acts as a channel for communication and consultation through an established network of advocates and volunteers to help people gain access to services. It can also be a source of knowledge and expertise in the training of staff who will deal with racial harassment cases.
5.1.4. All employers have statutory responsibilities to ensure that racial discrimination is eradicated from the workplace. They should also be aware of all the forms which racial harassment might take and be prepared to take firm action against perpetrators. This requires management action and support in the form of training and changing the culture of organisations to promote equality of opportunity.
5.2. Law enforcement agencies
5.2.1. The Police
The Police have the primary responsibility for responding to racial incidents and all reported incidents which come within the definition already noted under paragraph 2.1.2. are recorded as such.
On February 3rd, 1995 a new offence of intentional harassment and new powers of arrest came into force. Under section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 as amended, a person is guilty of an offence if with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress he:
- uses threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour, or
- displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or any other person harassment alarm or distress.
A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspects is committing an offence under section 4A.
As well as powers of arrest, the Police also have a major role in relation to prevention, in encouraging reporting of the crime, reducing opportunities for crime and diversion of potential perpetrators.
5.2.2. The Crown Prosecution Service
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) uses two tests in deciding whether to prosecute any crime. These are, whether there is sufficient evidence to produce a realistic prospect of conviction and whether the public interest requires a prosecution.
The CPS has a positive policy on the prosecution of cases which have a racial element. Evidence of the racial nature of the offence will be presented to the Court and taken into account as an aggravating factor when sentence is passed.
The CPS is currently monitoring cases of racial harassment passed to them by Police to ensure that they can be properly considered.
5.3. The local authority
The Local Authority is in a unique position, both through the services it provides, directly or indirectly and through its links with other organisations to take a lead role in developing policies to combat racial harassment.
5.3.1. Services for Children and Families, Services for Adults, Services for Older People
These Services have particular responsibilities in relation to children and young persons within the Children Act 1989, to promote their welfare by taking steps to prevent them being received into care or being brought before a juvenile court. There are also responsibilities under the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 to enable people to remain within their own homes wherever possible or to provide suitable alternative support in the community.
5.3.2. Education Services
Local Education Authorities, schools and Governing Bodies have duties under the Race Relations Act 1976, not to discriminate in the provision of education or in the exercise of any of their functions under the Education Acts. In particular the Youth Service has a role to play in generally educating and making young people aware of the damaging effect of racism, with an agreed strategy to tackle the problem which includes challenging racist attitudes and behaviour.
5.3.3. Housing Services
As direct providers of public sector housing and as providers of housing advice to private sector tenants and landlords, the Council’s housing policies must be seen to be fair and non -discriminatory. If members of ethnic minorities are to have access to housing services they must be free of the fear of racial harassment and attack. Council tenancy agreements include a clause prohibiting acts of discrimination, intimidation or harassment and the Council is responsible for enforcing them.
5.3.4. Health, Consumer and Registration Services
Trading Standards and Environmental Health Officers need to be aware of the issues which may affect their services with regard to the receipt of complaints and other information which could be as a result of racial harassment.
5.3.5. All other council services
All Services have a role in promoting equal access to their services and in monitoring the effectiveness of their policies. The Policy Unit has a clear role in developing corporate policy, monitoring and review of the Strategy and a key role in promoting the Council’s image. In addition, legal advice and staff training are important aspects of the Council role in this context. Personnel and Business Planning Services has an obligation to promote equal opportunities in employment and many of the Council’s staff have direct contact with residents