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Our zero-tolerance approach to hate crime

We’re committed to improving our case handling, and in particular, those involving harassment and hate crime

At L&Q, we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of hate crime. That’s why, last year, when some residents told us we’d let them down by our response to cases involving racial harassment and hate crime, we wanted to find out more, so we could be better.

Sadly, we know that racism exists in society and that L&Q residents are not immune to experiencing this. We want to build relationships based on trust, transparency and fairness, but we know sometimes we get it wrong. We’re truly sorry where our actions haven’t been good enough when responding to hate crime complaints.

Throughout November and December 2021, we reached out to the L&Q and you! online community to find out more about residents lived experiences of racial harassment, and how it was handled by us if it was reported. We had 209 residents respond to our survey in total.

There were two parts to the research, which included:

  • a short survey
  • an online discussion group made up of willing participants from the initial survey. This focused on a recent review carried out by us on case handling. The review was commissioned following a court decision which criticised the way we had managed a case involving serious racial harassment.

We’re in the process of contacting residents who told us they’d like us to follow-up with them about the experiences they shared during the research exercises.

Residents’ experience of hate crime

Most residents who participated in the survey said they have experienced racial harassment at some point in their lives. Notably, around half of those residents said at least one example of that harassment has occurred from a neighbour, in their L&Q home, estate or surroundings.

The main reason for not reporting racial harassment to us was residents didn’t have confidence that we’d deal with the case effectively.

Shared experiences of racial harassment are both historic and very recent for some residents. Sadly, residents shared times when they have:

  • been subject to racially abusive name calling or language
  • been subject to physically abusive behaviour
  • denied a service or offered substandard service from organisations or personnel
  • experienced systemic and institutional racism – e.g. within employment or health service systems
  • been treated with suspicion / unfair treatment / ignored
  • not taken seriously when reporting the abuse

When residents have reported harassment to us they’ve experienced mixed responses of how we’ve handled the case.

However, where residents felt we responded positively, this was largely because they felt:

  • we took them seriously
  • we listened
  • our colleagues made them feel supported

Themes of a negative response from us focused on delayed or lack of response from us or a failure to see the case through to a suitable resolution. Some residents also said they felt that the tone of our communications could be improved.

Unfortunately, some residents said these experiences of racial harassment, and or the way we handled their case has impacted the way they interact with us. Some residents claim they have lost confidence in our complaint service, become wary of some of our people entering their home and even increased their communication via email to reduce the risk of discrimination.

Residents’ views on how we could improve

Residents suggested several ways on how we could improve our response to reports of racial harassment in future. The main themes are listed below:

  • make sure the approaches are victim-centred by being more proactive in collecting evidence to support a case
  • employ specialised teams to deal with these cases
  • increased use of CCTV
  • consider digital diaries to help record the abuse more easily
  • reconsider how we categorise racial harassment – racial harassment is very different to other types of antisocial behaviour for many residents
  • try and understand just how much of an impact it can have on someone both physically and mentally

Next steps

We’re absolutely committed to improve our case handling, and in particular, those involving harassment and hate crime.

We accept we haven’t always got this right and we’re working hard to put things in place that have been recommended in the recent review carried out by us on how we handle hate crime at L&Q.

We’re expanding our resources on diversity and inclusion, including a specific role at L&Q, which will lead on diversity and inclusion for residents.

In addition, we are creating a new team for our residents, bringing together specialist areas of housing management, including: antisocial behaviour (ASB), safeguarding & vulnerability, resident support, mental health and tenancy fraud. This new approach will enable officers to dedicate their time solely to resolving issues which you have told us matter most to you. Any future reports of hate crime will be immediately assigned to a specialist ASB Caseworker, and within 24hrs of making the report.

It’s unacceptable if residents experience discrimination from L&Q colleagues or contractors and we’ve got strict procedures in place to deal with any incidents of discriminatory behaviour. All reports made to us will be investigated thoroughly and the resident will be updated of the outcome.

If you or anyone you know has been discriminated against by an L&Q colleague, resident or contractor, we encourage you to come forward and speak to us.