Hate Crime Awareness Week: a customer’s journey

poverty isolation

It’s Hate Crime Awareness Week and as part of this week, we will be sharing customer’s stories about how they’ve overcome hate crime.

In today’s blog, we hear a customer’s journey about how they have tackled hate crime. For the purpose of the story, we have anonymised the customer and their family.  

Victims of hate crime from two separate neighbours

Our customer Ms R initially contacted us advising that her family were victims of hate crime from two separate neighbours. The close proximity of the perpetrators increased the level of risk of physical harm and emotional distress that Ms R and her family were under.

Our Safer Neighbourhood Specialist went to visit the Ms R and her family. It was plain to see the emotional distress that the hate crime has caused. Ms R reported to us that their car had been vandalised by the perpetrators and the family also reported that they had been subjected to hate motivated verbal abuse due to their nationality.

Due to the strong links developed with the police, our Safer Neighbourhood Specialist was able to work with Police Officers who also were aware of the two perpetrators. We worked together with the police to share information proportionately to take effective action to resolve the issues.

The police attended the home in plain clothes to mitigate risk 

The police visited Ms R’s home with our Safer Neighbourhood Specialist which enabled us to put a plan into place to support the family. Initially the victim was terrified of the police going to her home in uniform in case the perpetrators identified that police were attending. Our Specialist requested that police attended in plain clothes and parked away from the house to mitigate the risk that the perpetrators would find out Ms R had reported the issues.

During the meeting, we were all able to identify a plan of action to support the victim and deal with the perpetrators responsible for the hate crime. Ms R and her family consented for us to visit the perpetrators and discuss the allegations put against them. Ourselves and the police made several attempts to liaise with the perpetrators. We initially wrote to them and explained the allegations that had been put against them urging them to come forward. Following these letters being sent out and numerous home visits with the police we had still not managed to engage with the perpetrators.

Time went by, but due to the level of persistence between us and the police, one of the perpetrators came forward and began to engage. Once faced with the possibility of police and tenancy enforcement action, the perpetrator became remorseful and apologised for their actions. This perpetrator advised that his accomplice had significant issues, due to his behaviour in the community this had caused issues within his own home, as a result, it became apparent that this perpetrator had fled and was not returning.

Collaborative approach

By working collaboratively with the police and the perpetrator who engaged with us, we began to highlight the impact that the perpetrator’s behaviours had on Ms R and her family. We were able to demonstrate to the perpetrator the distress their actions had caused.

As a result Onward and the police agreed that the perpetrator would sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) and have a Tenancy Breach Warning served on them. An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) is an enforcement tool used between us and the police and sets out specific conditions which the perpetrator is expected to adhere too. This ABC would be monitored closely by us and the police if there were any further substantiated reports of hate crime or any other antisocial behaviour – the perpetrator could face being arrested and also legal action being taken resulting in them being subject to an injunction order from the county court. The consequences of an injunction order can be very serious, it can result in perpetrators facing a custodial sentence, having assets seized or losing their home.

“Thank you for letting me and my family live our lives again”

This case was dealt with using the tools and powers available to us as a housing association. No enforcement action was needed to resolve the incident, which can often be distressing for victims and the use of an Acceptable Behaviour Contract to monitor someone’s behaviour before applying for an injunction is an effective remedy. Our interventions resolved the problems and Ms R took time to email us to thank us for “helping her and her family live their lives again”.

To keep up to date with us this #HateCrimeAwarenessWeek, please follow us on our Twitter and Facebook.

To report hate crime, always call 999 in an emergency. If it is not an emergency you can report it to the police by dialling 101.