In the largest ever UK research survey of action to tackle racial harassment* the work being carried out in Ipswich is used as a case study.
The survey report says that Ipswich was chosen as a case study, along with three others, for showing 'a consistent level of good practice'.
The county's multi-agency forum against racial harassment, in partnership with the Prosper SRB scheme, has established a racial harassment initiative with a racial harassment officer**, based at the community safety unit, at Suffolk County Council.
This initiative, funded through the Prosper Scheme, aims to make sure that people who suffer racial harassment know about the support that is available to them.
It also deals with individual cases of racial harassment and provides households with necessary security measures.
Some of the specific actions highlighted in the report are:
Reporting of incidents to the borough's housing offices - two-thirds go directly to the local office while most of the remaining third are passed on from the racial harassment initiative
Information for victims is in a racial harassment leaflet available from all Ipswich Borough Council outlets and support agencies, in a support pack and in a police leaflet.
A clause prohibiting racial harassment is included in the borough's tenancy agreement and the policy is explained in the tenants' handbook
Additional security from the borough is provided by covert CCTV, community alarms, replacement security doors and locks, fire proof letter boxes and security lighting.
The borough council has begun possession proceedings (relating to council tenants) on grounds of racial harassment
A network of racial harassment reporting centres has been established since 1999. This scheme began as a pilot and has now been extended. Staff at the centres - based in libraries, schools, medical clinics, the Mosque, and Citizens' Advice Bureaux - are specially trained for the work.
The Racial Harassment Officer collates statistics from racial harassment reports and refers cases to other agencies where necessary.
Community alarms units, linked to the borough council's 24-hour centre, are available from the Racial Harassment Initiative. These units can be installed throughout Suffolk if the user has a telephone line.
Peter Monk, Suffolk County Council executive committee member, said: 'Suffolk County Council has already recognised the importance of work carried out by the racial harassment initiative and is pleased that it has now received national recogition as an example of good practice.'
Jeanette Macartney, Ipswich Borough Council housing portfolio holder, said: 'This
is fantastic news for all the partner organisations of the multi-agency forum against racial harassment.
'It comes at an opportune time for Ipswich Borough Council as we are currently working with other Suffolk-based district councils and Registry of Social Landlords to adopt a common racial harassment policy for all housing organisations working throughout Suffolk. This national recognition can only strengthen the existing commitment to this initiative.'
Hamil Clarke from ISCRE added: 'Communities and organisations can only tackle racial harassment by working together to provide an effective response. This report is an excellent endorsement of the partnership working encouraged by the multi-agency forum.'
The forum against racial harassment includes representatives of Ipswich Borough Council, the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE); Suffolk County Council's education and social care services; Suffolk Constabulary; Ipswich Victim Support; Orwell Housing Association, the Prosper Scheme and local black and minority ethnic community groups.
NOTES TO EDITORS: * The research survey was conducted by Lemos&Crane (CRCT) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The complete searchable findings of the research survey are to be made available at www.RaceActionNet.co.ukOrganisations interested in using the website when it is launched in February 2001 can now register their interest at this address.
** The county council's Prosper scheme, through which the post of racial harassment officer (held by Shammi Jalota) is funded, works to improve the economic prospects of black and minority ethnic communities in Suffolk.