Campaigners are calling for an independent inquiry into an asylum seeker “accommodation crisis” after an attack at a hotel in Glasgow.
Six people were stabbed – including a police officer – and the attacker Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police in the incident at the Park Inn hotel in West George Street on Friday.
The hotel was being used to house asylum seekers at the time.
They had been moved there in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
PC David Whyte, 42, was critically injured in the attack but has since spoken about the incident.
The other victims, aged 17, 18, 20, 38 and 53, all remain in hospital as of the latest update on Saturday. One of them is in a critical condition.
Charities and MPs have questioned the decision to place people in hotels during the pandemic.
The Home Office currently provides free, fully-furnished accommodation to asylum seekers while applications are being considered.
Positive Action in Housing, situated just a few doors down from the Park Inn, is among those raising concerns after private housing provider Mears, which is subcontracted by the Home Office, moved the refugees from self-contained accommodation to hotels.
At her daily briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government was in contact with the Home Office about the attack.
“We’re considering what further lessons need to be learned from what happened on Friday,” she added.
Positive Action in Housing is pushing for an independent investigation after Friday’s events.
Director Robina Qureshi, earlier told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We’ve got a lot of concerns regarding this – the stabbing that took place on Friday and also the death of a Syrian refugee in a hotel in Glasgow just six weeks ago. All under the watch of Mears.
“It’s the same thing when they took away their £5.39 a day from the asylum seekers. They said we’ve stopped giving them money and that’s so that we can protect asylum seekers from catching the virus from coins.
“Nor in Scotland or across the UK did anybody say you mustn’t use money because you might catch a virus, but yet it seems to apply to asylum seekers.”
She added: “Questions need to be asked about how a situation came about where 370 people were to be uprooted during a pandemic at the start of the lockdown when nobody was to move, non-essential travel was forbidden.
“We’ve had so many concerns raised about people who are suicidal inside these hotel rooms.
“There are people drinking water from the tap in the toilets and desperate for bottled water but they couldn’t buy it.”
Ahead of a press event being held by the charity on Monday, one of the asylum seekers staying at the hotel, Andrew, handed a card over to police to be passed on to PC Whyte.
“I just want to present this card as a sign of appreciation for the bravery of David Whyte,” he said.
Chris Stephens MP said: “An investigation of these and other issues is now needed to restore the trust of politicians, support organisations and asylum seekers.
“We must now also demand that the Home Office consult with support organisations and Glasgow City Council on an exit plan to ensure that asylum seekers can be moved out of hotels and placed in suitable accommodation.”
Alison Thewliss MP said: “They [asylum seekers] have survived circumstances none of us could imagine, only to be treated with a culture of disbelief from a complex immigration system and a hostile environment which makes their daily lives incredibly hard.
“The Home Office must take responsibility for the wellbeing of all asylum seekers currently being accommodated in hotels in Glasgow. Support payments must be reinstated immediately.”
The Scottish Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell, has said she is seeking talks with the Home Office this week.
Mears referred requests for comment to the Home Office, but said it was deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic events.
In a statement, the Home Office said: “Throughout this pandemic, we have prioritised providing asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with free and safe accommodation that enables public health guidance to be followed.
“They have access to healthcare and all of their essential living needs and costs are met.”
Mears took over the contract in Glasgow following controversy about its predecessor Serco.
Serco had embarked on a campaign of changing locks on flats occupied by asylum seekers whose leave to remain in the UK had been refused.
Mears had planned to move all those in hotel accommodation back into flats by the end of June.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe