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Our inquiry into disability related harassment has unearthed not only the extent of the harassment that people can face every day, but the challenge that people simply did not believe the scale of the issue

The research has revealed that public authorities, such as police forces, councils and registered social landlords, need to do more to understand and then to tackle the problem of violence and harassment targeted at people for whom they are.

More than 200 policy makers and practitioners from public authorities across Britain responded to our questions about their commitment and action to tackle violence targeted at someone based on the traits protected by the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation). The Act gives public authorities a specific responsibility to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate unlawful harassment, advance equality and foster good relations as part of their public sector equality duty.

The good news is that most (95 per cent) public authorities know they need to help people report targeted violence and 85 per cent understand their role in supporting victims. There is room for improvement, however, as almost one fifth (18 per cent) did not think they had a role to play in preventing such incidents and more than two fifths (44 per cent) of public authorities did not think they had a role to play in working with perpetrators.

Even where the dual role of support and prevention is recognised, not all public authorities we talked to were taking action to fulfil this requirement. While most respondents stated that they had some policies about targeted harassment, fewer had action plans and they did not always address harassment targeted at people from all the characteristics protected by the public sector equality duty. Even fewer respondents said they routinely evaluated how successful their actions were.

Gathering and using data on targeted harassment is an area which public authorities need to improve. Public authorities could do much more to engage with local people at risk of targeted violence to address these gaps in evidence and involve local people in developing solutions to the problem.

Most respondents (95 per cent) thought partnership working was important in tackling targeted harassment. The most common way of working doing this was through community safety partnerships. This highlights the important role they need to play in addressing this problem. Learning what works for a community will make it easier for local people to hold public authorities to account for their performance.

While most respondents said that their organisation had provided training on targeted harassment, most also felt that further training would help them to respond better.  

Developing more preventative approaches should help to minimise the damage caused to victims and communities as well as the costs incurred in responding to it. Public authorities need to translate good intentions into good practices that bring about positive outcomes for victims and communities.  We are looking forward to working with all those organisations that can play a part in reducing and eliminating the blight of harassment from our society.


The report, Targeted violence: prevention is part of the cure, can be found here:

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Written by Mark Hammond   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 10:03
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 10:05

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