- Have you been the target of a racist, homophobic or other identity based prejudice/hate incident?
- Have you experienced unlawful discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment)?
- Have you been upset by offensive stereotyping?
- Have you experienced unacceptable customer behaviour such as violence or threats (DCC staff/Councillors)?
Everyone has the right to live and work in an environment free from harassment, hate and discrimination.
Remember, it’s OK to say it’s not OK if you experience or witness harassment, hate or discrimination.
Harassment, hate and direct discrimination involves hurtful behaviour or treating someone badly because of age, disability, gender identity, pregnancy/maternity, race/ethnicity, religion/belief or sexual orientation. It can include: hate speech, using offensive language or stereotyping; bullying; excluding or isolating; sexual innuendo and sexual harassment; refusing to provide a service on equal terms; not allowing a mother to breastfeed her baby; graffiti, physical assault and damage to property.
Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criteria or practice set by a service provider or employer disadvantages people from a particular group (which does not have an objective and legitimate reason).
Failure to provide a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person is also a form of discrimination.
If someone tells us that they have experienced harassment, hate or discrimination, we will treat the matter seriously and sensitively.
Tell someone if you have been affected by, or witnessed, an incident of discrimination/harassment. Knowing what happens can help us understand the issues that people are facing and develop strategies to stop them happening again. You are protected by equality law to make a complaint in good faith about discrimination and not to be victimised as a result.
Complaints should be made directly to the organisation using their procedures.
Here’s what to do…
Discrimination/harassment by Devon County Council staff/services, councillors or service users
If you are a member of staff:
- and have experienced discrimination or harassment as part of your employment, please see the Acceptable Behaviour Policy. We encourage matters to be resolved informally where possible, if you are unable to resolve your matter informally you could use the Council’s Grievance Procedure. Please try to resolve your issue as soon as possible.
- and experienced discrimination, harassment or abuse by a service user/member of the public, please see the Unacceptable Customer Behaviour Policy and speak to your manager.
- and manage a DCC social media account, please log any incidents here.
If you are a service user or member of the public and experience discrimination by a Devon County Council service/member of staff you can make a formal complaint using the Council’s Complaints (Feedback) Process. This includes services that the County Council commissions or runs in partnership with other organisations.
Complaints about Councillors can be made to the County Solicitor. Please see further information on making a complaint about a Councillor.
Please make it clear that your complaint/grievance is about discrimination or harassment, and the type of discrimination (for example, racist, sexist or homophobic).
If you do not want to make a complaint (or are unsure what to do) please use the Unacceptable Behaviour and Discrimination Online Report Form. You can use this form to ‘speak up’ about incidents (including harassment) that have affected you or others. You can do this anonymously. You can also use the form to seek further guidance and or be referred to complaints procedures.
If you are unable to access the online form, you can contact the Lead Officer for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Please note that the Lead Officer for EDI cannot:
- can complete the online report form on your behalf.
- cannot help you make a complaint against Devon County Council (they need to remain impartial).
- does not investigate complaints, but can provide advice to officers managing the investigation process.
- can signpost you to our complaints procedure or other sources of support and information so that you can get the matter resolved.
- make general recommendations to services or the organisation as a whole.
For independent advice about a complaint related to discrimination please contact the EASS (see next).
Contact a national helpline for discrimination/harassment and human rights issues
The EASS is a national helpline that advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights. Check their ‘Resources’ and ‘Advice and Guidance’ sections and contact them if you need further support. The EASS cannot provide legal assistance but can signpost you if you are unsure where to get legal assistance from.
Schools and school pupils
If your complaint is with a school, you will need to complain to the school directly, using their complaints or grievance procedure. Please see our guidance for schools for further information about bullying and prejudice/hate incident reporting.
Discrimination/harassment in the community - Hate Crimes and Incidents or Sexual Assault
Through the Safer Devon Partnership, we are working with partners to tackle prejudice and hate crime across Devon.
What is hate crime?
Hate crime is any offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by the offender’s hatred of people because of their association with one or more of the equality strands. For example, you can be a victim of hate crime because of your race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why report a hate crime?
- help the council and the police to understand patterns of behaviour.
- provide a true picture of what is happening within your community.
- help police investigate an incident which may contribute to an arrest and/or prosecution.
- help prevent these types of crimes happening to you again or to someone else.