As approved at General Meeting 24.9.97
Harassment is a deliberate act, committed against people because of their racial origin, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. It can take the form of physical attack, but also includes graffiti, verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and damage to property. It is important, however, to draw a distinction between harassment and neighbour disputes, since they may involve acts of the same type.
All harassment incidents will be regarded as serious and worthy of investigation. Action will be ‘victim-centred’ and the victim treated sympathetically. Harassment breaches a member’s tenancy agreement.
During the signing of the tenancy agreement, the representative of the Co-op will explain the significance of the tenancy condition regarding harassment. This will involve ensuring that the expression is understood and that the Co-op regards it seriously – eviction could follow a breach of that part of the tenancy agreement.
Procedures for dealing with harassment incidents
Members who experience harassment of any sort should report the incident to a Welfare Group member or to the secretary, who should then follow the Members’ Complaints Policy.
Dealing with the complaint involves three areas:
- Providing support
- Dealing with any damage
- Action against the perpetrator
Provision of help and support
The Co-op may need to contact other agencies for their assistance in supporting the member. These may include the police, lawyers and advice centres. The victim should also expect to obtain support from other Co-op members. Help should also be provided on request to facilitate a transfer to another Co-op house when feasible.
Arranging for the Maintenance Group to deal promptly with any damage
The Maintenance Co-ordinator or the worker should be informed immediately if damage has been caused. Racist or other offensive graffiti will be treated as an emergency repair and removed as soon as possible. Evidence of damage needs to be collected before the repairs are done.
If the damage has been caused by another Co-op member, the Co-op may seek to charge that member for the repair costs.
Other improvements may be possible, within the maintenance budget, e.g. additional locks, alarms or lighting to help the member to feel more secure.
Action against the perpetrator
Courses of action available to the Co-op are outlined in the Member Complaints Policy. A complaint may be made, and the disputes procedure invoked, by the victim of harassment or by any other Co-op member on his or her behalf.
Harassment is categorised in the Complaints Policy as serious misconduct. This category applies to behaviour that is considered unacceptable to the extent that the Co-op has no option but to seek a member’s eviction once any allegations have been substantiated.