This post follows on from the initial post which became very long, but can be found here: https://qarn.org.uk/concerns-about-the-use-of-army-barracks-etc/. Here we update the post with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation and hotels, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites.
and also the post regarding plans to export people seeking asylum to Rwanda https://qarn.org.uk/exporting-people-seeking-asylum-rwanda/
1 January 2023: Guardian: Home Office publishes details of £70m contract to house asylum seekers
Charities have criticised ‘warehousing’ centres, calling instead for better integration in society
Details of a £70m contract to put asylum seekers into controversial accommodation centres have been published by the Home Office, the Guardian has learned.
The Home Office has said repeatedly it wants to move tens of thousands of asylum seekers out of hotels, which are costing about £5.6m a day. But its first attempt to set up such a centre at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, in North Yorkshire, stalled after local opposition, including from Conservative politicians and the threat of legal challenges. Since then no other concrete plans have emerged.
In December, the Home Office added the £70m project to its procurement pipeline, the mechanism that it says provides a formal look at its “anticipated outsourcing activity over the next 24 months”.
Officials aim to run a “mini-competition” for the contract to design, build or renovate these centres and to manage them. The programme is due to run from June. Charities have criticised the centres as acting as “warehousing”, advocating instead for asylum seekers to be accommodated in communities. They say these centres “blur the line” between detention and accommodation.
While the Home Office has frequently promoted the idea of accommodation centres, information about how they will operate has been scant. When the news emerged last August that the Linton-on-Ouse centre would not be going ahead, the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said four other Ministry of Defence sites had also been made available to the Home Office “if they want to take it up”. It is not known where these sites are and whether plans are proceeding to develop any of them.
The Linton-on-Ouse proposal was to provide full-board accommodation for 1,500 single men for up to six months, with the contractor Serco due to manage the site. A shop as well as faith and medical services were planned.
Some contract information about the plans for a national portfolio of accommodation centres can be found on the website Bidstats. It states that “new-build sites utilising modular and/or modern methods of construction and/or traditional methods” along with “wraparound services including healthcare, safeguarding and education” are required. Consortiums are encouraged to get involved.
28 January 2023: Guardian: Revealed: child migrants racially abused and threatened with violence at Home Office hotel
Whistleblower tells of threats and illegal detention in fresh revelations about failures that drove children into hands of criminals
Children seeking asylum in the UK were threatened and subjected to racist abuse by staff at a Home Office-run hotel, a whistleblower has claimed as pressure grows on the government to act over the growing crisis in the system.
The source, who worked in the Brighton hotel for more than a year, said that in such an environment of “emotional abuse”, scores of children, who had arrived in the UK without parents or a carer, were driven on to the streets and into the hands of criminals.
An Observer investigation last week that revealed dozens of young people have been kidnapped by gangs from the same hotel, prompting calls for such places to be closed and for a public inquiry.
Child protection sources and a whistleblower working for a Home Office contractor described how youngsters were abducted from the street outside the hotel and bundled into cars. More than 200 children are missing after vanishing from hotels managed by the Home Office.
Another whistleblower has now come forward, claiming that some children in the Brighton hotel were also threatened that their asylum claims would be harmed if they “misbehaved” while others were punished by being detained – illegally – in the hotel for days.
I heard staff threatening to throw children out of the window, and joking about them going missing
The allegations of violent threats to youngsters – many of whom fled persecution in their home countries and are profoundly traumatised – will add to mounting pressure on Rishi Sunak to intervene and stop the Home Office’s “unlawful” use of hotels for unaccompanied children.
Updated 25 January 2023: Guardian: Home Office accused of ‘dereliction of duty’ over missing child asylum seekers
Unclear who has legal responsibility for children placed in hotels, after dozens abducted from street in Brighton
Ministers have been accused of a “dereliction of duty” over their failure to find 76 child asylum seekers who have gone missing from a Brighton hotel managed by the Home Office.
The accusation came during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday after an Observer investigation that cited child protection sources and a whistleblower working for a Home Office contractor, who described how youngsters had been abducted off the street outside the Brighton hotel and bundled into cars.
Caroline Lucas, the local Green MP, tabled an urgent question asking what steps the government had taken to trace the missing children.
The immigration minister Robert Jenrick said more than 4,600 asylum-seeking children had been accommodated in six hotels since July 2021, and 440 of them had gone missing. Some were later found but 200 remained missing and 13 of them were under 16.
Hansard: (Urgent Question): To ask the Home Secretary if she will make a statement on what steps she is taking to find missing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and to keep them safe
You can read the debate here:
21 December 2022: BBC: Migrants detained illegally, official email claims
Hundreds of migrants were illegally detained at immigration removal centres, according to Home Office emails obtained by BBC News.
The detention centres were used to hold about 450 people – described in one email as “overflow” from the migrant processing facility at Manston.
The email said their detention was “no longer legal,” adding: “We need to move them to hotels ASAP.”
The Home Office said an unprecedented number of small boat arrivals had put “huge pressure” on the asylum system.
The department said it had a legal duty to house asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, and officials had worked “worked tirelessly to move people into hotels or other accommodation as quickly as possible”.
The email was sent on 4 November, the day after Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Manston amid pressure to get a grip on overcrowding at the site.
According to a chain of emails, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office permanent secretaries – the department’s most senior civil servants – were made aware of the concerns at the time.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the emails “demonstrate the Home Office knew that they were breaking the law and lay bare how their chaotic failure to plan led to this situation”.
“Under [Ms Braverman’s] direction the Home Office has lost control of the system and has created potential substantial legal costs for the taxpayer.”
Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64037136