Inquiry urged into Glasgow asylum seekers’ ‘accommodation crisis’ after attack

Refugees, charities and MPs are calling for an inquiry into an asylum seeker “accommodation crisis” in Glasgow after an attack in the city last week.

Badreddin Abadlla Adam, 28, from Sudan, was shot dead by officers after six people – including 42-year-old police constable David Whyte – were injured in the incident on Friday at the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street.

They are aged 17, 18, 20, 38 and 53 and all remain in hospital as of the latest update on Saturday, one in a critical condition.

The hotel was being used to house asylum seekers at the time, with campaign groups criticising the decision to do so, taken during the coronavirus pandemic.

Positive Action in Housing, situated just a few doors down from the Park Inn, was among those raising concerns after private housing provider Mears, which is subcontracted by the Home Office, moved refugees from self-contained accommodation to hotels.

The charity is now pushing for an independent investigation into the group’s procurement after Friday’s events.

Robina Qureshi, the charity’s director, told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We’ve got a lot of concerns regarding this – the stabbing that took place on Friday and also the death of a Syrian refugee in a hotel in Glasgow just six weeks ago. All under the watch of Mears.

“It’s the same thing when they took away their £5.39 a day from the asylum seekers. They said we’ve stopped giving them money and that’s so that we can protect asylum seekers from catching the virus from coins.

“Nor in Scotland or across the UK did anybody say you mustn’t use money because you might catch a virus, but yet it seems to apply to asylum seekers.

She added: “Questions need to be asked about how a situation came about where 370 people were to be uprooted during a pandemic at the start of the lockdown when nobody was to move, non-essential travel was forbidden.

“We’ve had so many concerns raised about people who are suicidal inside these hotel rooms.

“There are people drinking water from the tap in the toilets and desperate for bottled water but they couldn’t buy it. They were terrified of breathing the air because the windows open.

“Only last Friday before the attack took place six Scottish MPs refused to meet with Mears and they said it’s due to trust issues – they couldn’t trust what you were saying any more.”

Ahead of a press event held by the charity on Monday, Chris Stephens MP said: “An investigation of these and other issues is now needed to restore the trust of politicians, support organisations and asylum seekers.

“We must now also demand that the Home Office consult with support organisations and Glasgow City Council on an exit plan to ensure that asylum seekers can be moved out of hotels and placed in suitable accommodation.

“This week we are demanding a meeting with ministers to address these and many other outstanding questions.”

Alison Thewliss MP said: “Throughout my time as an MP, I have been raising concerns about the treatment of my asylum-seeking constituents by the UK Home Office.

“They have survived circumstances none of us could imagine, only to be treated with a culture of disbelief from a complex immigration system and a hostile environment which makes their daily lives incredibly hard.

“The Home Office must take responsibility for the wellbeing of all asylum seekers currently being accommodated in hotels in Glasgow. Support payments must be reinstated immediately.”

A statement from the Mears Group said: “Our thoughts remain with those in hospital and others impacted by this tragedy. We are doing everything we can to provide additional support to service users.

“We immediately moved service users from the Park Inn Hotel into new accommodation on Friday night. Mears staff slept here also to provide additional help and support.

“Glasgow City Council have provided four social workers from their Major Incident Support Team to be on site. We are providing access to additional counselling support and to essential items such as clothing.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.