Back in October on this blog, I wrote about a Freedom of Information request submitted to Hillingdon Council about undocumented migrants in my local area.
The results, as can be seen, were pretty shocking and can be viewed on the original post via the link
Since then, I have followed up via my local councillor and also the two MP’s where the Children’s Homes used for some of the migrants that are mentioned have been housed.
Reply from John McDonnell MP (Labour)
The first reply came back from Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell as follows by email –
Dear Cliff Dixon,
In response to your queries concerning asylum seekers you will be aware that the council exercises responsibility for supporting asylum seekers including when necessary providing accommodation.
I am sure that the council will respond to any questions you have.
From my own knowledge the centre at *********** has been used for accommodation of asylum seekers for some time and the council implements procedures for assessing the age of the asylum seekers where it considers there are grounds for undertaking an assessment.
I have not heard and have no evidence that vulnerable, under age young girls are being placed at risk in this establishment. However this is a serious claim and so as you have copied the ward councillors into this email chain and I am sure that they will clarify this with the appropriate council officials.
I have also copied in the council’s chief executive, who I am also sure will ensure that your question on this is addressed thoroughly.
John McDonnell MP
So, whilst we have a serious housing crisis in the Hayes area that affects local residents and their children (Not to mention disadvantaged kids who need this kind of accommodation), the MP has been aware of this for some time but never bothered to make an enquiry. He passes off any and all responsibility to the Council and the local councillors for follow up yet finds time to protest about the conditions of the illegal migrants in the Kent barracks that was recently set on fire by some of those residing there as seen on his Twitter feed. (Below)
I think we can all see where his priorities lie and it is not with the residents who elected him to his position. McDonnell never criticised the accommodation when British Army soldiers were housed there – but then his sympathies with those who blew them up in Northern Ireland is well documented.
Reply from Hillingdon Council (Conservative led)
The next response came in direct from our Council after a members enquiry from one of the Councillors
Re: ME 8506521 – ***************
Thank you for your recent enquiry in relation to concerns raised by residents about the children who are loitering in groups in the vicinity of ************* .
This enquiry was passed to me as the appropriate officer to provide a response.
I have looked into this matter with the Service Manager for the children’s homes the Council provide and the Registered Manager of ************* children’s home.
To provide some background *********** provides residential care for young people up to the age of 18 years old, predominantly those who are unaccompanied minors
As I am sure you will understand the safety of all young people requiring support is paramount and it would not be appropriate for me to provide specific details about the young people placed in the service.
The manager has confirmed that the young people are currently bubbled in terms of their educational placement and when accessing any community and leisure-based activity. There is currently a maximum of 2 young people leaving the house to access public transport at any one time in line with the current arrangements of staggering educational timetables . The young people return straight from school and are compliant with following the guidance around social distancing and hygiene. The Manager has also informed me that the young people in recent months have only been accessing their education and planned leisure activities where they are supported by staff and have not been going out except for these purposes.
Therefore I believe that the young people who have been seen in the vicinity to ********* are other local children that are not connected to the home. To ensure this is followed up we will refer this matter to the youth services and anti-social behaviour team to ensure action is being taken to look into this.
In terms of educating young people with regards to the pandemic I can confirm that all young people have been provided with face coverings and information relating to COVID19 has been shared in the young people’s first language.
A weekly meeting as a resident group is held by staff in addition to weekly individual Key work sessions with young people. These meetings include discussion around culturally appropriate behaviour and safe respiratory hygiene.
It is important to note that there are always staff on duty at ********** to support and supervise young people and there is CCTV covering the front and sides of the building which ensures the safety of the young people and community at all times. Any suspicious activity would be reported to the anti-social behaviour team so they can assist and address.
In the event that residents have further concerns I would of course be more than happy to be contacted to look into.
I hope this response answers your enquiry fully but please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information
Head of Direct Care Provision
Provider Services & Commissioned Care
On the face of it, this all seems pretty straightforward but is couched behind the terms of ‘not being appropriate to comment’ on who is in the home. I can understand this as the Council would not want to fall foul of Data Protection regulations.
However, the comment about two leaving at a time for ‘educational’ or ‘recreational’ purposes and coming straight back doesn’t fill me with confidence. How can they be sure that these residents are indeed going straight from A to B without loitering in C? The recent lockdown means that this is not happening at the present time but what about before and after the current restrictions?
Residents have told me that those hanging around are not people they have seen before so it contradicts the response that these are ‘local children’ – Unless they are a part of the other three categories that were covered in the original Freedom of Information request (Foster placement, Semi-independent and supported accommodation)
On the plus side, they have recognised the concerns and are looking in to it
Reply from Boris Johnson MP (Conservative, Prime Minister)
Dear Mr Dixon,
Thank you for contacting Mr Johnson about asylum seekers under the care of Hillingdon Council.
Our office has taken this matter up directly with the Leader of Hillingdon Council. He has informed me that there have been no reports or details of anti-social behaviour in the locality of ***********
I understand that there is full CCTV coverage in the area which can be utilised by the Police and relevant authorities if necessary.
If you or any other residents have any concerns about anti-social behaviour or any other criminal activity you should, in the first instance, report this to the Police.
The Council have also confirmed to me that there are no Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children currently resident at ************ .
Thank you again for taking the time to contact Mr Johnson.
This is a really interesting reply.
Firstly, as a constituent, I have put in a number of enquiries to my MP and the answers always come back by post on Parliamentary letterhead signed by Boris Johnson. In this case, the reply was by email from one of his office staff. Why the different method of communication?
Secondly, his staffer states that there are no unaccompanied asylum seeking ‘children’ at the Home in his constituency after consulting the Council – Yet the FOI response from the same source names it as being one of the sites where ‘asylum seekers’ are being housed. Why the different responses and which one is correct?
After further investigation through my sources, I can confirm that there are no young girls being housed in either of the two facilities at the present time. However, it would appear that the home grown youngsters from all backgrounds in at least one of the homes have been moved on to make way for undocumented migrants whose ages cannot be checked.
This is a phenomenon that has already been seen in Kent, with youngsters in need of help pushed aside to make way for an influx of people whose age is indeterminate and who gained entry to the country illegally (As reported in multiple news media including The Daily Telegraph)
The Daily Mail also picked up on my previous report at the weekend (February 6th) where they ran the story about hotels being taken over at Heathrow to house undocumented migrants, in this case the Crowne Plaza – it is not the only one and the FOI request showed that the government had put in nearly £6mn to cover the costing whilst Hillingdon Council had contributed £2.9mn from local coffers.
With an ongoing pandemic and serious housing problems in Hillingdon then this is an issue that will not go away. Whilst genuine cases (Such as the Ugandan Asians I grew up with in the 70’s) deserve support, even the UN and EU admit that as many as 80% of those coming to our shores do not qualify as asylum seekers under the UNHRC definition.
With no way to check backgrounds or ages and more coming via the boats across the Channel, the government need to get a grip on migration and take advantage of our newly independent status from the EU that allows us to control our borders. Many vulnerable children and veterans in the UK need assistance, they should not be pushed aside to make way for those who break our laws to get here – You do not pay to fix the neighbour’s fence when your own roof is leaking.
A failure to deal with this will not only damage the credibility of the Government but also allow more undesirable elements to make political capital where they are not listening to genuine concerns from the working classes who suffer the most in terms of more expensive housing and rapid change to their areas. It is time to put the needs of UK residents of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religions ahead of the cause of economic migrants who break our laws for their own ends.