Legal action forces company to rethink
Serco has promised to halt asylum seeker lock-changes in Glasgow until the law is clarified, it has been announced.
The private company had begun changing locks on asylum seekers’ flats who had lost their legal right to reside in the UK.
It comes as Serco was facing a legal challenge brought by two asylum seekers and supported by Shelter Scotland at Glasgow Sherriff Court.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Serco has provided an undertaking to the court that they will not take any steps to remove our clients from their homes whilst our clients’ cases and Legal Services Agency’s case has been temporarily suspended.
“All parties agree that the law should be clarified. This undertaking provides our clients with some security that they will not be removed from their homes whilst the lawfulness of a lock change is tested.”
Strong condemnation from across the UK was levelled at the Home Office contractor after it issued lock change notices to 300 tenants of its properties in Glasgow.
However it denied it would make hundreds of people immediately homeless.
It said it would give lock-change notices to “no more than six single adult males this week and 12 the next”.
Serco has also confirmed, however, that it is still seeking a “longer-term solution” for 330 over-stayers, 230 of whom had been refused asylum and a further 100 who had been granted leave to remain in the UK.
Brown added: “Our cases remain in court and we are prepared to argue our points if necessary as we consider that a lock change without due process would be a violation of our clients' human rights. We also have concerns that this practice is discriminatory against disabled persons facing destitution.”
Serco leases many of the homes it provides to asylum seekers from housing associations many of which have pledged to rehouse the tenants if evicted and to prevent locks being changed on its properties.