Statement from Status Now: 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’.
Inspection reports by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/inspection-reports-by-the-independent-chief-inspector-of-borders-and-immigration
AN ASYLUM-SEEKER staying in a former army camp in Kent has described the facility as “like living in a prison:” he hasn’t left the site for two weeks due to intimidation from the far right.
More than 400 people are now being held at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, which was reopened as emergency accommodation for asylum-seekers last month.
23.10.2020: Report on an unannounced inspection of the detention of migrants arriving in Dover in small boats
Detention facilities: Tug Haven, Kent Intake Unit, Frontier House, Yarl’s Wood and Lunar House
Key concerns and recommendations
1.10 Concern: The reception facilities at Tug Haven were very poor and those at KIU were
unsuitable for the large number of detainees who frequently had lengthy stays. There was no ready access to showers or lockable toilets with seats and lids. Many detainees at Tug Haven were not sufficiently protected from the cold, basic supplies including clothing were running out and detainees were often crowded into spaces where social distancing was not possible.
Managers agreed that the environment was not acceptable but not enough progress had
been made towards improving the situation, which was especially poor in view of the risks
posed by COVID-19.
Recommendation: Effective and coordinated action by all agencies involved
should ensure that there are safe, decent and hygienic reception conditions for
arrivals at Tug Haven, KIU and Frontier House. In particular, contingency
planning should ensure there is an effective response to fluctuating numbers and
rapid mobilisation of resources whenever necessary.
1.11 Concern: Detainees arriving at Tug Haven routinely had their mobile phones removed from them, and they could not gain access to the contact details for family or friends that were stored on their phones.
Recommendation: Detainees arriving in the UK should be able to make initial
contact with their family and friends by telephone free of charge.
1.12 Concern: Detainees’ vulnerability was not always identified. Screening interviews were
undertaken in the early hours of the morning, making it less likely that vulnerabilities would be identified. No vulnerable adult warning forms had been opened at Frontier House between June and August 2020. An elderly woman was held there for 40 hours. Mitie had not reported any modern slavery concerns and we did not receive information on how any
UKVI referrals were made under the National Referral Mechanism.
Recommendation: The Home Office should promptly assess and meet the needs
of vulnerable detainees. Care plans should be in place for all detainees at risk.
1.13 Concern: Unaccompanied children were often held overnight with adults and often for too long. Welfare interviews with unaccompanied children arriving in the daytime regularly took place in the early hours of the next morning, which undermined the purpose of the
interviews. Some children had not been identified at Dover and were placed on a coach to
adult detention facilities.
Recommendation: The Home Office should ensure that its practice at Dover
complies with its duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children arriving
in the UK.
1.14 Concern: Detainees, including children, were held for far too long and often overnight in facilities with no access to the open air and little or no natural light. Detention reviews
frequently did not take place.
Recommendation: Detainees should only be held overnight in non-residential
holding facilities without access to fresh air and exercise in exceptional
circumstances and reviews of their detention should be timely and thorough.
1.15 Concern: Health services had developed in response to changing and growing needs, but no overall health needs assessment had been completed to establish what services, equipment and clinical supplies were required.
Recommendation: Agencies responsible for contracting health care services at Tug Haven, Frontier House and KIU should commission a health needs assessment and establish an integrated care pathway for detainees. The pathway should contain milestones for assessment and treatment, and an agreement should be reached with East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust about when emergency hospital services are to be engaged.
BBC: 23 October 2020: English Channel migrants ‘being detained in unfit conditions’
The Home Office did not prepare for a predictable rise in English Channel migrant crossings, leaving men, women and children detained in unfit conditions, the prisons watchdog says.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said migrants were often held in what looked like an unsafe building site.
Facilities included containers where it was not possible to socially distance.
Read more here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54652234
What can you do? Please write to your MP about this situation. The reason that these dire facilities are being used is due to the backlog of cases as the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled the processes – but this backlog would be freed up if those who have been waiting (some of the waiting for years) were given Leave to Remain. It’s not rocket science and it has been done before.
The Home Office already has the power in Law to grant temporary status in an emergency. This would just take than a step further.