Serco lock-change policy lawful, court rules


Campaigners hit out after ruling finds in favour of controversial housing provider. 

13th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 1 Comment

Outsourcing company Serco can legally evict vulnerable asylum seekers by changing the locks of their flats, a court has ruled.

The judgement from the Court of Session on Wednesday means Serco did not act unlawfully when it issued eviction notices to tenants in Glasgow last year.

Serco will now be able to continue with eviction proceedings for around 150 people who are still being housed in the properties.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC), which has campaigned on behalf of the tenants, said it was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision.

SRC chief executive Sabir Zazai said: “This galling verdict leaves hundreds of men and women in Glasgow at risk of lock-change evictions and immediate street homelessness.

“People are very anxious and very stressed. The people we work with do not have family networks in Scotland or friends with spare bedrooms where they can stay in a crisis. People have no options.

“On top of this, there is already a homelessness crisis in Glasgow that this decision will only contribute to.”

Advisors from the SRC are working with those affected to provide support, the charity added. Anyone seeking advice is urged to contact the SRC helpline on 0141 223 7979.

Robina Qureshi, director of refugee and migrant homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing, also hit out at the ruling.

She said: “What this decision has done is to legally institute a form of housing apartheid in the city where one section of our community have their human and housing rights upheld.

“And another very vulnerable community can be dragged from their homes at any time and turfed out onto the streets without recourse to work, support or a roof over their heads.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP said the decision showed that current laws are “not fit for purpose”.

“The UK Government’s approach to asylum is inhumane and the decision of its contractor, the disreputable Serco, to lock asylum seekers out of their accommodation was despicable,” he added.

“The court has ruled that Serco’s actions were legal, but that does not make them right.” 

The No Evictions Network condemned the decision, saying a humanitarian crisis is now “inevitable”.

A spokesperson said: “We reiterate that people in the immigration system should not be denied the same rights to housing as everyone else in Scotland, and will continue to fight for the rights of asylum seekers to basic secure housing, regardless of the status of their asylum claim.

“We are ashamed that Glasgow will play host to such flagrant disregard of basic human rights. This is not the spirit of Glasgow that we want to be sent out to the rest of the world.

“We will now look to Glasgow City Council to provide immediate and dignified accommodation to those facing street homelessness in the midst of this crisis.”

Serco’s Julia Rogers said said the company would work with local authorities to ensure the ruling was applied in an "orderly, sensitive" manner.

She added: "Subject to the interdicts issued by the Sheriffs Court, Serco would not seek to remove more than 20 people in any one week from their properties, so it will take us several months at least to finally hand back all properties to their owners."

15th November 2019 by Carlton

Serco a private organisation has been paying for FREE accommodation for these refused asylum seekers for months without compensation from the Government. What other company would do this . While I am naturally concerned about their fate as human beings, its not Serco's problem its the governments and local authorities.