Cockroaches, Bed Bugs, Fleas, Mice and Rats: The conditions of the UK’s worst Asylum Housing.

The Oxford English dictionary defines Asylum as protection and shelter from danger granted by a state to someone who has left their home country as a political refugee, the provision of such being an obligation every stable civilised state should accommodate. However, the Home Affairs Committee has called on the conditions of some asylum accommodation a “disgrace”, infestations include rats, mice, bed bugs, fleas and cockroaches. Pests present a risk both to an individual’s mental wellbeing alongside their physical health.  One resident’s flashbacks to the cell where he was detained and tortured should send chills down our spine and firm our resolution to act.

Reports of mice and rats scurrying across kitchen tables, urine soaked carpets, insect ridden beds, all raise a point of concern from those within the Pest Control industry who are aware of the risks associated with a lack of control.

The Government has said it is committed to “safe, habitable” accommodation, yet it seems like there is a disregard for the risks of Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, LCMV and Murine Typhus to name but a few. Our obligation to ‘shelter from danger’, seems to come with mixed interpretations on what is classed as a ‘danger’.

The elderly and young are most at risk to the bacteria and viruses carried by rodents, but also those with weakened immune systems. When we look at the diets and the conditions from which many asylum seekers come, it is clear that the bulk part of those granted Asylum in the UK can be grouped into the ‘at risk’ category. It is not only the risks to health, but the risk of structural damage to the accommodation itself which can incur substantial costs. This should be taken seriously when there are far more pressing things to finance over damage and associated costs for a matter which is preventable.

John Whitwam, Managing Director for Immigration at G4S says “isolated examples of poor practice” were not a reliable guide to the standards most asylum seekers receive. While this might be a set of isolated examples and not reflective of all accommodation, it is never the less reflective of irresponsibility on the part of the property management team.

One of the increasing strains on the provision of pest control for councils and indeed the private sector, is the ever rising cost of professional technicians. This is where the market has the solution. Amateur use pest control will solve pest issues, empowering those in the accommodation to take responsibility for the hygiene of their abode and offers a monumental cost saving to local councils. In turn, the tax payer by removing the labour cost. Food for thought.

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