Risk Assessing Hotels And Barracks Housing Displaced People In The UK

Updated 23.10.2020 with BBC report, below.

20 October 2020: Risk assessing hotels and barracks housing displaced people in the UK: Statement from StatusNow4All

We note that the role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is to help improve the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of the Home Office’s border and immigration functions through unfettered, impartial and evidence-based inspection.   

We note, in contrast, that the Home Office is attempting to side step this transparent system by hiring  a private risk management company, Human Applications (https://ergonomics.org.uk/humanapplications)  to provide a ‘rapid review of initial accommodation for single adult asylum seekers, including hotels and former military barracks, and provide assurance of compliance with public health guidelines to prevent the transmission of Covid 19.’   Hastily arranged with minimal, non-transparent and selective third sector involvement, the Home Office have stated that they do not intend to make this report public.  

Living conditions have the potential to compromise the physical and psychological health of people.  Those displaced people currently accommodated by the Home Office in hotels and barracks around the UK are not being offered thorough assessment, especially in relation to the safeguarding concerns that arise from the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Home Office is failing to demonstrate either an appropriate duty of care, or any transparent process.   Similarly, the meaningful exercise of duty of care cannot be realised until there is a comprehensive test- track- trace and quarantine system that enables EVERYONE to participate, with confidence, throughout the UK. 

Alongside our call for StatusNow4All https://statusnow4all.org/about-status-now/ to enable everyone to share equal access to healthcare, housing and food, we call for the  Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration  to conduct an immediate and independent inspection that ‘provides assurance of compliance with public health guidelines to prevent the transmission of Covid 19’.

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‘Off-shoring’ people seeking asylum is not a new idea

Updated 2.10.2020 – following the idea of outposting people in the asylum system to Ascension Island, the Home Office is now considering using old ferries …

Updated 3.10.2020 – Channel 4 news private jet chartered to remove one person to France.

Updated 12.10.2020 – Use of ‘unsanitary’ and ‘unsuitable’ ex-MoD housing

Out of sight, out of mind! The ‘backlog’ can be dealt with by giving people Leave to Remain now, This post is also uploaded to the http://qarn.org.uk website.

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Information Commissioner Orders Home Office to Disclose Data to ‘No-Deportations’

September 2020: 1) ‘No-Deportations’ made an FOI request, 23 April: ’Number of people forcibly removed from the UK on Charter Flights (Escorts and Removals) Q1 January/February/March 2020’: Immigration Enforcement replied: Thank you for your Email of 23 April, in which you ask for information about Charter Flights in 2020. The information which you have requested is being considered under the exemption in section 31 of the FOIA, which relates to law enforcement. This is a qualified exemption, and to consider the public interest test fully we need to extend the 20-working day response period. We now aim to let you have a full response by Monday 22 June.

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Home Office outsourcing asylum interviews to private contractors is irresponsible and callous. We have a better alternative.

28.9.2020: The UK Government’s Home Office are planning to outsource asylum interviews to private contractors. They claim that the move is intended to deal with a backlog of over 40,000 cases. The move has sent chills amongst some people seeking asylum, and wider communities with experience of outsourced state services, and especially amongst those who have endured an  interview process that was already dysfunctional before the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis.

Outsourcing the interviews would mean that whichever company gets the contract – G4S, Capita, Mitie, Sopra Steria or Serco – would be able to access highly sensitive and confidential information that could put peoples’ lives at risk. Could any of these private companies be trusted with access to sensitive information? Could they be trusted to employ case workers who are capable of creating safe spaces for people to tell their harrowing stories? Could they ask the right questions in the right ways and not intimidate people? 

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Divisive spin and scandalous neglect: this government’s approach to refugees

We welcome this statement from Leicester City Mayor & Executive:

23.9.2020: Divisive spin and scandalous neglect: this government’s approach to refugees

Leicester is a city that has been shaped by our recent history of providing refuge for people fleeing from war, conflict and oppression. Our city comprises many, many thousands and many generations for whom this plight and flight was a real, lived trauma. People who had to flee immediate jeopardy and make sudden, rapid life changing acts of survival. People who sought refuge and found a home in Leicester.

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Statement exposing how Home Office plans to restart evictions and continue deportations are irrational and undermine public health

On 15th September 2020, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote to Local Authority Chief Executives – you can read the letter here: https://statusnow4all.org/condemnation-of-home-office-decision-to-start-evicting-asylum-seekers-despite-warning-of-second-wave/  

Three days later, 18th September 2020, the Public Accounts Committee  exposed that the Home Office has no idea of the impact of immigration policies and raised serious concerns over the work of the Home Office Immigration Enforcement directorate dating back over several years.  That Home Office ‘work’ has directly interfered in the lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including children in families.  That ‘work’ has resulted in a myriad of humanity-denying actions authorised through Home Office powers, as most recently exemplified in the horrific death of Mercy Baguma.  From within Government structures, the 18th September report placed  massive questions marks over a multitude of migration related Home Office decisions.

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How can we be practical with the people living in the hostels and hotels

Bullet points from 3rd September 2020 Zoom Meeting of anti fascist activists in the North West about responding to Britain First attacks on hotels etc. organised by Liverpool based PCS Trades Union organiser Mary Dooley

  • Coordinate letters to local papers and complaints to IPSOS if letters or articles fostering hate are carried in local press
  • Insist that decent internet and wifi connection is put into every residence
  • Intention is to involve the people living in the hotels and hostels in the planning and development of our responses so that they are enabled to acquire more control of what is happening and their environment
  • Make phone trees including phone numbers of natural leaders in the residences
  • Put calls out for old phones so that residents can be given them – and sim cards
  • Translate leaflets into key languages – expressing solidarity and offering contact details
  • Residents can use healthy snacks fresh fruit and cash – there is no access to cooking facilities so food donations must be appropriate
  • Secure solidarity statements and actions from local trade union branches and TUC groups in the area
  • Translate leaflets into key languages – expressing solidarity and offering contact details

This is in response to the intrusions by Britain First into hotels where asylum seekers have been accommodated: https://statusnow4all.org/press-release-the-status-now-network-unconditionally-condemns-the-actions-of-members-of-britain-first/