Report an incident of discrimination


  • 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?

Everyone has the right to live and work in an environment free from harassment, hate and 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 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 complaints procedure (or grievance procedure for members of staff).

Here’s what to do…

  • Discrimination by Devon County Council staff/services, councillors or service users

    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.

    If you are a member of staff and have experienced discrimination or harassment as part of your employment, you could use the Council’s Grievance Procedure.

    If you are a member of staff who has 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.

    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 want to tell someone about your experience but do not want to raise a formal complaint (or are unsure what to do) then you can use the Discrimination Report Form: Word (editable) or PDF. You can use this form to report incidents (including harassment) that have affected you or others. You can do this anonymously if you wish. Information is used for monitoring purposes and general recommendations for employment or service improvements may be made. Care is taken so that individuals will not be identified in any monitoring reports, therefore this process does not directly resolve incidents but provides individuals an opportunity to ‘speak up’. You can also use the form to seek further guidance and signposting to sources of support or complaints procedures.

    You can post the form to the Corporate Equality Officer at the following address: County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter EX2 4QD. You can also submit the form by email to (or you can just provide the information by email – no need to complete a form). Please note that the Corporate Equality Officer:

    • 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.

    Further guidance and support for staff and Councillors:

    For independent advice about a complaint related to discrimination please contact the EASS.

  • 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. Contact them if you have a complaint about a service or employer and need support.

  • 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 in the community - Hate Crimes and Incidents, 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?

    You can:

    • 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.

    More information on reporting a hate crime, hate incident or sexual assault.