Charities make fresh plea to halt evictions of asylum seekers in Glasgow

Charities have made a fresh plea to halt the potential mass eviction of hundreds of failed asylum seekers in Glasgow until the legality of the process has been clarified.

Protesters gather outside Serco offices in Glasgow last month to demand the halt of planned evictions. Picture: John Devlin
Protesters gather outside Serco offices in Glasgow last month to demand the halt of planned evictions. Picture: John Devlin

Third sector groups, including Shelter Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council, are calling on outsourcing giant Serco and the Home Office to stop issuing “lock change notices” on around 300 individuals currently living in temporary accomodation in the city.

The charities claim the asylum seekers’ human rights are threatened by Serco’s proposed evictions. Last week, one law firm successfully obtained interim orders from Glasgow Sheriff court to temporarily stop the eviction of five asylum seekers.

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Further interim interdicts preventing a lock change on behalf of some individuals were granted today. It is believed there will be further court actions taken in the following weeks.

Serco revealed in June it would change the locks on around 300 homes in the city as its contract with the UK Government to provide free accommodation to those claiming asylum comes to an end later this year.

The corporate giant first announced the programme of works last summer but it was delayed after it faced a backlash from politicians and charities as well as a legal challenge from two asylum seekers.

Serco said it was informed in January by the Home Office that it had been unsuccessful in its bid to supply accommodation for asylum seekers in Scoltand from 2019 onwards.

Fiona McPhail, principal solicitor at Shelter Scotland, said: “Scotland has a proud tradition of protecting the rights of tenants and occupiers.

“It’s widely accepted by our courts that eviction is the most severe form of interference with the right to respect for the home and that where public authorities intend to evict someone they must do so lawfully. For these reasons, we recognise the importance of involving the courts, sheriff officers and other safeguards which reduce the risk of people being unnecessarily thrown out onto the streets.

“We are convinced that lock-change evictions due to be carried out by Serco are illegal and should not be going ahead.

“We will continue to fight for the housing rights of all people, including asylum seekers. We call upon Serco to halt lock change evictions until the law is clarified in ongoing litigation.”