Like many other districts and boroughs across the country, Cannock Chase is currently home to a number of asylum seekers. A local hotel is accommodating them and has been since late 2021.
Another hotel, just outside the district boundary, is also housing other asylum seekers as a result of the strain on the asylum system in recent months.
However, it is important to be aware that Cannock Chase Council and local partners including the Police, Fire and Rescue Service, the County Council and the NHS are not involved in the decision-making process in any way.
The Home Office has said that the use of these of hotels aims to be a short-term solution until more suitable accommodation can be found, but they are unable to give a timescale due to the continuing pressures in the asylum system.
SERCO is the Home Office appointed contractor for asylum dispersal and is responsible for ensuring the health, wellbeing, safety and welfare of asylum seekers. This includes providing food and other basic provisions where this is required. SERCO is providing 24-hour onsite support to these residents.
What is an asylum seeker?
An asylum seeker is a person who leaves their country of residence, has arrived in another country and has asked for asylum.
The claim of a person seeking asylum that they have left their country due to a lack of protection from persecution and/or serious human rights violations has to be legally recognised by the Government. Whilst their claim is being assessed/processed, they are an asylum seeker.
The 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees anyone the right to apply for asylum in another country that has also signed the Convention. It also guarantees that they can remain there until their claim has been processed.
If the claim and resulting appeal is unsuccessful, they must return to their home country.
What is a refugee?
In the UK, a person becomes recognised as a refugee when the Government agrees that their asylum claim meets the definition in the Refugee Convention. At this point they will be issued with refugee status. The duration of an individual’s permission to stay varies and depends on the individual case. Further information can be found here - www.gov.uk/claim-asylum/decision
Where are the asylum seekers being placed?
The Home Office is procuring hotels across the country as temporary accommodation. The decision where to house asylum seekers is made by the Home Office and is a commercial agreement with those hotels involved.
If you have any question about the provision of individual hotels, please contact the Home Office by emailing: email@example.com or by calling 020 7035 4848.
Are councils asked if the hotels can be used for this purpose?
No, the Home Office makes the decision on which properties are used.
Do councils receive any funding for this?
No, councils do not receive any funding to support those staying at a hotel.
What is the actual cost of homing those seeking asylum in Cannock Chase District?
This is not information we hold. The Home Office is responsible for those staying at the hotel in Cannock Chase. The Council is not paying towards those staying at the hotel.
How many asylum seekers are there in the UK and where have they come from?
The number of refugees and people seeking asylum goes up and down, depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures. The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.
It is worth noting that only 0.2 per cent of the population are refugees or asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 the highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Iraq and Syria.
The nationality of those residing at hotels will therefore vary and will often be mixed.
Why don’t asylum seekers stay in the first safe country?
The 1951 Refugee Convention does not require that a person claims asylum in the first safe country they reach, but most do.
80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin. This can be seen in the case of Syria. Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours – Turkey and Lebanon.
The number one reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here. This covers over 50% of cases. Other factors that people will take into account are more practical, for example, if you speak the language then you have more chance of being able to find a job and you can navigate everyday tasks like using public transport or going shopping. It is also not uncommon for asylum seekers to also state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country and refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.
What about bogus/illegal asylum seekers?
There is no such thing as an ‘illegal' or ‘bogus' asylum seeker. Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim. This is a legal process.
Can asylum seekers claim welfare benefits?
No, asylum seekers are not able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work. Asylum seekers in hotels receive food and accommodation and around £8.50 - £9 per week.
Will people have access to local health services?
Yes, they will be able to access local health services in the same way anyone visiting an area on a temporary basis can.
What is being done to ensure the behaviour of those at hotels and why are they walking around the streets?
People living at hotels are not prisoners and are able to leave and return within any given day.
Day-to-day behaviour within the hotel is managed by security, employed by SERCO, who are on site 24/7.
Any reports of concern, anti-social behaviour (ASB) or crime in the District should be reported to the police on 101 (or 999 if an emergency/if a crime is in progress) and they will deal with any reports or concerns as they would normally do so. ASB can also be reported online here - Report antisocial behaviour However, it is important to note there have been very few reports of issues to local police.
Social media is increasingly being used to spread rumours, many of which are untrue. We encourage anyone personally witnessing a crime/concern to contact the police via the above details.
Is it the case that some asylum seekers have already absconded in Staffordshire?
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.
We do however know that some asylum seekers even in the UK, remain at high risk of human trafficking and modern slavery. The Home Office is working to tackle this illegal activity.
If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking and modern slavery, please report to local police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency. You can also make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
How to ask a question?
We know you will have a lot of questions about this situation. We've hopefully answered many questions here but we may not have covered everything, so we welcome your questions and comments to be submitted to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We cannot respond to questions individually, but we will use appropriate questions to update this page.
Please note that any submissions containing hate crime or incitement will be reported to the police. We’ll also use the information you share with us in conversations with the Home Office, SERCO and local partners such as the police and health services.
For more information on refugees and asylum seekers
Refugee Action: Facts about refugees - Refugee Action (refugee-action.org.uk)
Migrant Help: Migrant Help (migranthelpuk.org)
Red Cross: The British Red Cross | Worldwide Humanitarian Charity
Last Updated: 02/06/2023