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Asylum seekers put in hotels across Scotland Asylum seekers to be put in hotels across Scotland
(32 minutes later)
Asylum seekers were moved into the Park Inn Hotel in response to the coronavirus pandemicAsylum seekers were moved into the Park Inn Hotel in response to the coronavirus pandemic
The UK Home office is expanding its use of hotels to house asylum seekers in Scotland, the BBC has learned.The UK Home office is expanding its use of hotels to house asylum seekers in Scotland, the BBC has learned.
More than 50 asylum seekers are in one hotel in Falkirk and the company also has hotels in Aberdeen and Perth ready to be used.More than 50 asylum seekers are in one hotel in Falkirk and the company also has hotels in Aberdeen and Perth ready to be used.
Asylum seekers were moved into hotels in Glasgow at the start of the pandemic as an emergency measure.Asylum seekers were moved into hotels in Glasgow at the start of the pandemic as an emergency measure.
Campaigners raised concerns about the mental health of "desperate and vulnerable" people living in hotels.Campaigners raised concerns about the mental health of "desperate and vulnerable" people living in hotels.
Charities said that a knife attack at a Glasgow hotel which left six people injured in June last year was a "direct result of the dysfunctional UK asylum support and accommodation system".Charities said that a knife attack at a Glasgow hotel which left six people injured in June last year was a "direct result of the dysfunctional UK asylum support and accommodation system".
Mears, the private contractor that houses asylum seekers for the UK Home Office, said it had moved all its "service users" out of hotels in the city, with the exception of one which was used for quarantine and self-isolation of newly-arrived asylum seekers.Mears, the private contractor that houses asylum seekers for the UK Home Office, said it had moved all its "service users" out of hotels in the city, with the exception of one which was used for quarantine and self-isolation of newly-arrived asylum seekers.
The Home Office, which provides free accommodation to asylum seekers while applications are being considered, said Glasgow was the only Scottish area to have taken part in the dispersal scheme since it began 20 years ago.The Home Office, which provides free accommodation to asylum seekers while applications are being considered, said Glasgow was the only Scottish area to have taken part in the dispersal scheme since it began 20 years ago.
However, it has not taken any new asylum seekers since the attack at the Park Inn in June 2020.However, it has not taken any new asylum seekers since the attack at the Park Inn in June 2020.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that other councils "need to step up and play their part too".A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that other councils "need to step up and play their part too".
He said: "As a result of the lack of volunteers for the dispersal scheme, the Home Office is forced to find contingency hotel accommodation to house asylum seekers."He said: "As a result of the lack of volunteers for the dispersal scheme, the Home Office is forced to find contingency hotel accommodation to house asylum seekers."
Falkirk council leader Cecil Meiklejohn told BBC Scotland they had been contacted a number of weeks ago to tell them the Home Office would be using a hotel in the area to house asylum seekers.Falkirk council leader Cecil Meiklejohn told BBC Scotland they had been contacted a number of weeks ago to tell them the Home Office would be using a hotel in the area to house asylum seekers.
She said they were concerned because they did not feel hotel accommodation was suitable but discussions about an alternative were not possible because the decision had already been taken.She said they were concerned because they did not feel hotel accommodation was suitable but discussions about an alternative were not possible because the decision had already been taken.
In 2019, there were protests over housing for asylum seekers in GlasgowIn 2019, there were protests over housing for asylum seekers in Glasgow
About 50 asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea in East Africa, are now in Falkirk.About 50 asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea in East Africa, are now in Falkirk.
Ms Meiklejohn said she understood the pressure the Home Office was under but she was concerned lessons had not been learned from the problems in Glasgow.Ms Meiklejohn said she understood the pressure the Home Office was under but she was concerned lessons had not been learned from the problems in Glasgow.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 Mears moved about 350 asylum seekers from flats into hotels as a "temporary measure".At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 Mears moved about 350 asylum seekers from flats into hotels as a "temporary measure".
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In a letter from August this year, seen by the BBC, Mears said it recognised that long stays in hotel accommodation were "very difficult for our service users".In a letter from August this year, seen by the BBC, Mears said it recognised that long stays in hotel accommodation were "very difficult for our service users".
However, Mears has now confirmed that it is using hotels in Aberdeen, Falkirk and Perth due to the rise in the number of people in the UK asylum system.However, Mears has now confirmed that it is using hotels in Aberdeen, Falkirk and Perth due to the rise in the number of people in the UK asylum system.
"This is in common with the approach across the UK where hotels are currently needed as a contingency," a spokesman said."This is in common with the approach across the UK where hotels are currently needed as a contingency," a spokesman said.
"We have been working very closely and positively with local authorities and with other partners, including health and welfare teams and NGOs to provide support to service users.""We have been working very closely and positively with local authorities and with other partners, including health and welfare teams and NGOs to provide support to service users."
Cosla, which represents all Scotland's councils, said it opposed the use of hotels to house asylum seekers.Cosla, which represents all Scotland's councils, said it opposed the use of hotels to house asylum seekers.