By Cllr Seyi Akiwowo- West Ham CLP Women’s Officer
There is no place for sexual harassment in our party. We must deal with sexual harassment and abuse, as well as challenge the negative culture that is all too common. At our Executive Committee Meeting on 8th November I made the following recommendations to officers which I’m pleased to say were agreed.
- For the Labour Party’s Sexual Harassment Policy to be published on our website.
- For all branch secretaries to send both a link to the policy as well as an attachment to branch members in the notice of the next branch meeting and report back to the Women’s Officer.
- For all branches to note the Sexual Harassment Policy at their next meeting and report back to the Women’s Officer.
- For their the be an equalities and unconscious bias training for all members after the 2018 local elections.
Please do let me know if you have any other ideas in terms of actions or policies that we can push for.
I have also included the contact details of some organisations that can offer support, please do feel free to circulate!
RASAC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre): 020 8683 3311
Rape Crisis National helpline: 0808 802 9999
National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Newham One Stop Shop: 0845 451 2547
The Labour Party has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and will take all complaints of this nature extremely seriously.
Should you experience any behaviour that you feel amounts to sexual harassment either towards yourself or another member we strongly encourage you to report it to us as soon as you can.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It takes place when someone is subjected to unwelcome and unwanted sexual behaviour or other conduct related to their gender.
Harassment is defined by law in the Equality Act 2010 as ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’. In the case of sexual harassment the relevant protected characteristic is ‘sex’.
Behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment includes:
- Unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature, this may be either physical or verbal,
- Inappropriate or suggestive remarks or verbal sexual advances,
- Indecent comments, jokes or innuendos relating to a person’s looks or private life,
- Unwanted physical contact such as hugging, kissing or inappropriate touching,
- Requests for sexual favours,
- The display or circulation of pornography or indecent images.
Often, this kind of behaviour may be brushed off by the harasser as ‘banter’ or harmless flirting. It is important to remember that the impact the behaviour had on you is the most important factor, it is not so relevant whether the individual intended to cause offence, but rather that offence was caused by the conduct.
Sexual Harassment Procedure
We understand that reporting sexual harassment can be intimidating, so we aim to make the process as clear and straight forward as possible. If you choose to contact us, it will only be treated as a formal complaint if you make it clear that this is the route you would like to take. We are happy to offer informal advice about the possible action and outcomes open to you and will not force you to take any action you do not feel comfortable with.
In the first instance we recommend that you to speak to a the Head of Complaints. You can contact them on: 07595 432542. They will be able to talk over your concerns and offer advice about the best course of action. If you would prefer to contact us initially by email then you may email the Head of Complaints on: email@example.com.
Where we believe a criminal offence has taken place, we will advise you to report the incident to the police. If we have serious concerns about your safety, the Complaints Unit have the duty to contact the police, but we will do our best to let you know before doing so. If your complaint is subject to an ongoing police enquiry, we will not investigate until the police investigation has run its course.
If, after speaking to us, you decide to make a formal complaint; the process will be as follows:
- First, we will seek written statements from you the complainant and the respondent. At this point the respondent will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them. As part of this process each party will be encouraged to provide any relevant evidence and names of witnesses that support their statement. This process will form the preliminary investigation to establish the matters of fact from both sides.
- The statements from the complainant, respondent and any witnesses will then be provided to the sexual harassment panel of the National Executive Committee (NEC). This panel will be made up of 3 members of the NEC Disputes Panel.
- All statements will be anonymised before being put in front of the panel, so they will not know the names of the individuals involved in the case.
- If the party deems it necessary, at the point the complaint is referred to the panel of the NEC, an administrative suspension may be imposed on the respondent until the investigation is complete.
- Should the panel of the NEC decide the case requires further investigation, they will refer the case to the NCC. At this stage the complainant and respondent will be provided with copies of all statements and asked to attend separate interviews with a panel of the NCC.
- The NEC panel may make the decision that the complaint is better dealt with through an informal route rather than through an NCC hearing. Where this is the case, they will lay out their recommendations for the next steps to the Head of Complaints.
- The meetings with the NCC panel will be held at different times and the complainant and respondent will not be required to meet.
- Witnesses may also be invited to attend an interview with the NCC panel.
- Should either the complainant or respondent wish to submit requests for questions to be put to the other party as part of their interview, they will be invited to do so ahead of the meetings.
- After the initial interviews, the NCC panel may feel it is necessary to follow up on any points that were raised; this will usually be done by telephone.
- Once the panel is satisfied that it has all the information it needs, it will make a decision about the appropriate action that should be taken. The NCC’s decision will be reported to the Disputes panel of the NEC.
At no point will the complainant be required to confront the respondent face to face. All details of the complaint will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
Writes Cllr Seyi Akiwowo- West Ham CLP Women’s Officer
At our October General Committee meeting we were deciding motions to put forward to London Regional Conference. I’m pleased that West Ham CLP voted for the motion to address youth violence and cuts to policing.
There wasn’t time to propose the motion but below is the statement I prepared. Our motion is now a composite with Orpington CLP and I urge all delegates at London Regional Conference to pass this
On behalf of the victims of violent youth crime in London, their families, their friends and their communities I urge you to support this motion on youth safety. This motion is about three key issues:
1) Commits the next Labour Government to invest in the future of our young people by resourcing councils and the voluntary sector to deliver high quality youth provision, programmes and anti-gang diversion programmes.
2)highlights the impact of austerity cuts on young people, our communities and our emergency services and calls on the Labour Party to continue campaigning against these cuts.
3) Commits the next Labour Government to reserve these cuts as well as provide police officers with resources to deliver proactive and community engagement work
We’ve seen disgraceful cuts to Youth Services and the Met police.
At least £22 million has been cut from council youth service budgets across London. and more than 30 youth centres have been closed. Funding to voluntary sector youth work has also gone down – by an average of 35 per cent in councils
Good quality youth services help prevent young people from falling into crime and also make them less vulnerable to the exploitation of groups like gangs.
Gun, knife and acid crime are up. Homicides and youth homicides are up—an 84% increase in youth homicide in the past year. That is not an “spike” in crime, it is serious and we have to treat it as such. Cuts are having particular impact on young people from poorer backgrounds.
There are particular problems for young black people, young LGBT people, and young women. So it appears that the cuts have hit precisely those who often need youth services the most.
The Mayor of London has warned that our city faces losing up to 4,000 police officers at a time of “unprecedented” challenges and that the £400 million gap may endanger the safety of residents.
Last month Parliament discussed Police funding in London. It was revealed that:
– The Met has lost £600m since 2010 so there are fewer police officers on the street
– The Tories plan to cut a further £400m by 2020
– Police stations are closing and neighbourhood policing is under attack across the capital. Half of London’s remaining 73 police station counters are set to close
These cuts are having a damaging and negative impact on neighbourhood policing, police conducting proactive work and building trust and relationship with communities.
Comrades, we are members of this party to advocate for and campaign on behalf of those voices, those communities, those human beings the Tories do not care about. We are party members that believe in our public sector its services and the future generation. So comrades this is an opportunity to not only enact these values but put forward an important and different issue at Conference that would not get discussed otherwise.”
Have a read of our initial Newham Labour policy manifesto ideas:
Monday 13th November, 7:30pm at West Ham Labour HQ, 306 High Street, Stratford, E15.
West Ham Labour Women’s Forum and Newham African and Caribbean Network (Newham ACN) will be hosting a joint event to celebrate Black History season and learn about British Black History. There will be a presentation, Q&A and drinks afterwards.
Copies of Paula Perry’s book will be available to purchase on the night for £12, do bring cash and paypal payments are accepted.
All Labour Party members, supporters and friends are welcome! Please spread the word!
One of the Forum’s proudest moment in 2014 was definitely working closely with our sisters in East Ham CLP to produce a proposal document for the 2014 Newham Labour Local Election Manifesto. After several consultations with women groups, meetings and late nights we successfully added three commitments to the manifesto that will improve the lives of women in Newham‐ reducing domestic violence, effective health screenings and Free English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) classes.
By Genevie Kitchen
On Monday, West Ham women gathered to boost the sisterhood for the 2018 local government elections. It was so wonderful to see a group of women from all walks of life dedicated to making West Ham better. Despite Monday being match day, the West Ham Labour HQ was full of bright, bubbly and brave women who brought snacks and heaters for the evening.
The training and AGM was hosted by the amazing Councillor Seyi Imoleayo Akiwowo, who chaired the discussions and helped us understand what being a Local Councillor really meant. We were asked what we wanted to improve in Newham and why we should stand. Councillors from all over Newham (including Cllr Charlene Mclean, Cllr Rachel Tripp, Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz, Cllr Veronica Oakeshott, Cllr Aleen Alarice, Cllr Anne Easter and Cllr Julianne Marriott) all gave inspiring talks about their day to day work and getting through the selection process.
The network was really welcoming and supportive. The group was full of positive strong women who are focused on making a difference. If we learnt one thing it is that people are really passionate about parking, especially on Match day!
After the training Seyi chaired the AGM. As Seyi is stepping down from being Chair of West Ham Women’s Forum, the new team would like to thank her for all of her hard work. We look forward to picking up where she left off, and we hope to do a great job in the next year.
The new team is:
Vice Chair – Nareser Osei
Secretary – Genevieve Kitchen
Treasurer – Khadiza Naseem
Campaigns Fundraiser and Branch Organiser – Cllr Veronica Oakeshott
GC Delegates – Rachel Tripp and Jane Lofthouse
EC Delegate – Cllr Rachel Tripp
As your Women’s Officer it is part of my responsibility to continue encouraging gender equality in the CLP as well as encourage sisters to be more active in the party whether that’s coming out campaigning, attending branch and CLP meetings or standing for positions. We have seen a significant improvement in local women’s involvement in the party but there is always more we can do.
- Branch Chair
- Branch Vice-Chair- in West Ham Ward we had two lovely female members job share this position
- Branch Secretary
- Branch Treasurer
- Branch Organiser – for organising campaigning and leafletting sessions. This is going to be a key position in helping us retain our Labour majority in Newham council
General Committee Delegate (GC) Positions:
The GC plans and coordinates our local Labour activity and meets on the 4th Thursday of the month. All party members are welcome to attend, but only delegates are able to vote on issues put to the GC.
The Secretary is automatically a delegate, plus one man and one woman per 25 members or part thereof.
Executive Committee Delegate (EC) Positions:
One position amongst GC delegates
Nominations for West Ham West Ham CLP position
- CLP Chair
- CLP Vice Chair of Campaigns
- CLP Vice Chair of Membership
- CLP Secretary
- CLP Treasurer
- CLP Women’s Officer
- Community Involvement Coordinator
- Trade Union Liaison Coordinator
- Political Education & Training Coordinator
- Equalities Coordinator
- Fund Raising Coordinator
- Information Technology Coordinator
- Local Campaign Forum delegates (10 positions)
Forum/Affiliated Groups to the CLP
All Forums and Affiliated groups will follow a similar election as above. Holding an election for:
Forum Officer positions
Two GC delegates and one EC delegate
Nominating members to West Ham CLP positions
- West Ham Women’s Forum – AGM to be held Monday 6th March, 7:45pm, 306 Stratford High Street.
- West Ham Youth Forum- AGM (pencilled in for) Thursday 16th February 6pm, 306 Stratford High Street.
- Trade Unions– Please contact either your local trade union officer or Kim Silvers the Trade Union Liaison for more information.
Socialist Affiliated Groups
- Fabians– Rohit Dasgupta, Secretary to announce AGM date.
- Christians on the Left– Clive Furness, Secretary to announce AGM date.
West Ham Women’s Officer.