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A teenage boy was allegedly raped at a hotel used to house refugees in east London, with another sexual offence against a child said to have taken place in the same facility. The teenage boy was assaulted by a man in his 30s at a refugee centre in Walthamstow, according to reports. The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they are investigating both incidents.
It comes after growing concerns for the safety of refugees with fears of overcrowding and unsafe conditions. Increasing pressure is being put on Suella Braverman, the home secretary, to look into the conditions of refugee centres.
The other child was alleged to have been attacked at the same accomodation facility in Walthamstow.
The Met said a person had been charged with one count of sexual touching of a child under 13 and would appear in court next week.
The two incidents are alleged to have taken place within weeks of each other at a hotel where 150 children are reportedly squeezed in alongside 250 adults.
A person was charged on Sunday 11 September with one count of sexual touching of a child under 13, the Met said.
A spokesperson added: “He was bailed by the court to appear at Stratford magistrates court on Wednesday 9 November. The charge relates to an incident at a hotel in Waltham Forest on Friday 9 September. The victim is being supported by specialist officers.”
The force said it received a report of rape at the same hotel on 5 October. A spokesperson said: “Officers attended and spoke to the victim, a boy in his teens, and his family. Specialist support is being provided.
“A man, aged in his 30s, was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. He was bailed to return on a date in early January 2023.”
Labour MP Stella Creasy has asked for Suella Braverman to resign over the revelations, accusing the Home Office of putting refugees at risk due to safeguarding issues. Ms Braverman had described some of the accomodation as “nice hotels” that had costed up to £150 a night before being used to house refugees.
In 2021, the use of hotels for people seeking asylum almost trebled. And on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Home Office was having to book more hotel accomodation for refugees.
Grace Williams, the leader of Waltham Forest council, has written to Braverman to raise concerns about the lack of safeguarding at the London facility, saying: “We have continuously expressed our view that accommodating families with children in contingency hotels is detrimental to children’s wellbeing. It is now evident that it is a risk to their safety too.”
The hotel is run by Clearsprings Ready Homes, which has a 10-year Home Office contract to manage asylum seeker accommodation in England and Wales.
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Ms Creasy told the Guardian that rather than taking her concerns seriously, Braverman “made a cheap jibe about the price of the hotels and showed little understanding about why it mattered”.
She said: “These incidents underline just how important it is that those who have responsibilities towards these children do so with the professionalism and compassion they deserve. The home secretary has failed on all counts – if she had an ounce of integrity she would step down, and if she doesn’t the prime minister owes these children the duty of care that been missing to date and must remove her from her post.”
The leader of Waltham County Council said the hotel where the incidents took place was not suitable for long term use.
She said: “These are vulnerable children often moved thousands of miles placed in cramped hotels for months on end without adequate support in place. Councils are doing all they can to protect these people with little or no warning of large numbers of asylum seekers placed in their areas. Alongside schools and health services, we are supporting people often with very complex needs with little additional resource.”
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