G4S, one of three companies hired by the Home Office under the COMPASS contract to house asylum seekers across the UK, has told of an increased number of attacks on its staff by refugees in 2016 – a year that also saw the number of refugees it has housed rise by 13 per cent due to increased immigration and more arrivals from Syria.
G4S is currently housing 18,639 asylum seekers and says only a minority are causing the serious problems.
The news comes as the Home Office announced last night it has ordered asylum accommodation providers to improve and increase their stock to meet an increase in demand, with record numbers expected to arrive next year.
Ministers want those who arrive in the UK, many illegally, put up in more “suitable properties” while their claims are processed.
The move could see Britain’s asylum bill, currently costing taxpayers £546.8million a year – or £1.5million a day – rocket.
G4S revealed the arson and assault problem in written evidence to an ongoing Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the standard of asylum seeker accommodation funded by taxpayers.
The report said: “A minority of asylum seekers display violent and destructive tendencies.
“That behaviour at times manifests itself in attacks on our staff and damage to properties.
“Assaults on G4S welfare staff or another service have increased and stand at 73 so far this year.
“So far in 2016, 14 properties have been seriously damaged by service users – usually through fire damage – rendering the property unusable and increasing the use of hotels.
“There were 162 cases of anti-social behaviour so far in 2016.”
G4S also claimed that despite reporting incidents to the authorities, in the main the perpetrators were getting away with it.
The report added: “G4S reports each incident to the Home Office and or to the local police. In most cases no sanction is applied.”
But, refugee support charities and organisations have given evidence to the inquiry saying the standard of accommodation offered by G4S is often so poor that it is the cause of friction between the firm and the people it is supposed to be helping.
Sandwell Women’s Aid (SWA) said in its report to the inquiry it was inundated with complaints about the standard of housing.
The SWA report said: “The majority of the properties provided under the COMPASS contract have been of very poor quality.
“We have repeatedly raised concerns/issues of rats or mice infestations.
“In addition to this, we have had several issues around repairs, we have had stairs falls through, a ceiling fall in whereby there was a near miss – the client and a baby were in the lounge.
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