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by Kirsteen Paterson
15 November 2022
Scottish Government seeks 'urgent' talks with Home Office over refugee tragedy

Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for social justice, housing and local government

Scottish Government seeks 'urgent' talks with Home Office over refugee tragedy

The Scottish Government is seeking "urgent" talks with home secretary Suella Braverman after a report found a lockdown tragedy at a Glasgow hotel used for asylum seekers could have been avoided.

In an independent report, Baroness Helena Kennedy KC found the "ill-planned" decision to move hundreds of asylum seekers from private flats to "unsuitable" hotels in 2020 resulted in the Park Inn attack.

Sudanese man Badreddin Abdalla Adam was shot dead at the Glasgow city centre hotel after stabbing six people. It has since emerged that he contacted authorities more than 70 times over his health and accommodation before the incident, and that other Park Inn residents had also raised serious concerns about his mental health.

Kennedy's report calls on Home Office contractor Mears, which has a £1bn deal to house asylum seekers, to establish a £5m-per-year fund to cover "essential mental health support and trauma treatment" for the people in its care.

And it says a "culture of fear" within properties used by Mears led to concerns among those seeking asylum that complaints would damage their claims. 

The inquiry heard how people were given just an hour's notice to quit their flats, with some told the move into hotel rooms would be "like a holiday".

However, there followed a "striking and clear" deterioration in mental health, with those affected "robbed of all agency or control" and left in some cases without access to medication for weeks.

The Home Office says it has since made "significant changes to keep asylum seekers safe", including measures to identify and support vulnerable individuals. Meanwhile, Mears said it is "working with local authorities and others to procure accommodation as quickly as possible" to reduce the use of hotels.

Today it emerged that social justice secretary Shona Robison has written to Braverman seeking "an urgent meeting" over the report's findings. 

Culture secretary Angus Robertson told the Scottish Parliament the findings are "a shocking indictment of the UK's broken asylum system": "It highlights the need for fundamental change so that the UK upholds its responsibility to recognise and protect people who've been forced to flee persecution and treats them with compassion, dignity, and human decency at all times."

Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart, who attended the report's launch at Merchant's House in Glasgow, asked Robertson if the Scottish Government will pursue the £5m fund recommendation, saying: "There should be no profiteering from pain."

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