Police investigating as teenage boy allegedly raped by man at hotel housing asylum seekers
Police are also investigating claims that a child under the age of 13 was sexually assaulted
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A teenage boy was allegedly raped by a man in his 30s at a hotel being used to house asylum seekers.
It is one of two incidents at the hotel in Waltham Forest which are currently being investigated by police. It has also been alleged that a child under the age of 13 was sexually assaulted at the same site in east London.
The Metropolitan Police said a boy, believed to be 17, was charged last month with “one count of sexual touching of a child under 13” and he will appear at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (9 November).
Police were called to the same hotel on 5 October to a report of rape and spoke to the alleged victim, a boy in his teens, and his family, the force said. A Met spokesman added: “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.”
The Home Office said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing police investigation. We work around the clock with the police and local authorities to ensure the children in our care are safe.” Clearsprings Ready Homes, which The Guardian reported operates the hotel for the Government department, declined to comment.
Earlier this week Grace Williams, leader of Waltham Forest Council, highlighted the alleged incidents when she met Home Office officials to raise “major concerns” about the lack of safeguarding at the hotel. But, writing to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman after the meeting, she said: “I am not assured that there is a safeguarding plan in place to protect children and vulnerable adults in the hotel” and called for “immediate” action to prevent “any further harm to children”.
In a separate statement, Ms Williams added: “Waltham Forest has a proud history of welcoming people from across the world, the Government needs to stop putting children and vulnerable people at risk.”
Embattled Home Secretary visits migrant facilities in bid to grip crisis
The Home Secretary has been touring immigration centres in Kent as she battles to get a grip on the chaos in the asylum system amid international criticism over her claim the UK faced an “invasion” of migrants.
Suella Braverman met Border Force teams in Dover on Thursday (3 November) to discuss Channel crossings operations and then went to the Manston processing centre to speak to staff and receive an update on the overcrowding crisis. She has come under mounting political pressure over the illegal conditions at the site near Ramsgate, where around 3,500 people are being detained for weeks in a site intended to hold 1,600 for a matter of days.
Government minister Graham Stuart conceded the site was not operating legally and “none of us are comfortable with it”, while he also acknowledged there had been “unfortunate language” used to describe the crisis following the condemnation of Ms Braverman’s comments. But he sought to blame an “unacceptable surge” in small boat crossings for the problem, adding that the “system is struggling to cope”.
Meanwhile, lawyers on behalf of charity Detention Action and a woman held at Manston are threatening legal action against the Home Secretary over the conditions. The charity said an urgent pre-action letter, sent to the Home Office on Tuesday, represented the first action against Ms Braverman around the “unlawful treatment” of people held at the facility.
The grim conditions at Manston were laid bare in a letter thrown by a young girl over the perimeter fence to a PA news agency photographer, claiming there were pregnant women and sick detainees there. The note, written in broken English and addressed to “journalists, organisations, everyone”, appeared to suggest 50 families had been held there for more than 30 days.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick previously confirmed the Government had received “initial contact for a judicial review” over Manston but stressed the move was “not unusual” as it concerned a “highly litigious area of policy”.