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»When a single mum who spoke little English was subjected to racial abuse by a gang for months on end, she was deemed at risk and referred to a specialist panel.

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The gang of young teenagers would single out Yulia – not her real name – shouting racist abuse, banging on her front door and shouting through the letterbox.

Due to her isolation she was referred to the Redbridge Victims’ Panel to ensure she was properly supported and understood what action was being taken to resolve it.

Geoffrey Fox is a victims’ advocate and represents those referred to the panel as well as keeping them up to date with developments in their case.

Mr Fox said: “It’s not that there was a bad incident, it’s a low level crime at a high frequency, it can make someone feel particularly vulnerable and she got to the end of her tether.”

“If you don’t have peace of mind at home it will have a big impact on your life.”

Vulnerable

Yulia was referred to the panel by housing services. The panel then involved other agencies, such as the anti-social behaviour team or environmental health, in the case.

The panel works with vulnerable and repeat victims of hate crime or anti-social behaviour. Although the panel was officially launched on Wednesday of last week, it has been on trial since June.

After the initial referral is made and representatives from agencies have been brought in, an assessment of the victim’s circumstances takes place.

For Yulia, this meant being kept up to date by Mr Fox on what the different agencies were doing and ensuring she felt part of decisions being made.

Mr Fox said: “I gave the woman emotional support, one of the most common complaints is that there’s a lack of information and involvement in the processes. It makes a huge difference to victims to feel involved in the system.”

At the moment referrals cannot be made by the public.

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