An asylum seeker, accused of raping a teenage boy, has “gone missing” while being transferred to a new hotel booked by the Home Office. According to Conservative MP Greg Smith, the man was moved to a hotel in Buckinghamshire, but Metropolitan Police officers did not escort him inside – at which point he went missing. The 39-year-old was being moved from a hotel in Waltham Forest, London, after officers received reports of a rape. Last night saw MPs and councillors raising concerns over the blunder that allowed the suspect to disappear, blasting it as “wholly unacceptable”.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick promised to urgently investigate the “very concerning” incident, after it was raised in the House of Commons by Mr Smith.
The Buckingham MP told Mr Jenrick: “Buckinghamshire Council learned third-hand from a London borough just this morning that an asylum seeker who is under investigation for a very serious offence was transferred to the asylum hotel in Buckingham by the Metropolitan Police but was not escorted into the premises and has since gone missing.”
He added that the process had been “wholly unacceptable”, urging swift action to find and hold him in “secure accommodation” until the investigation into the alleged rape on October 5 could be completed.
Mr Jenrick assured MPs that he would “report back” after looking into the issue.
The asylum seeker is currently on bail pending further inquiries and is required to return to the police station in early January.
A spokesperson for the Met Police said that responsibility for his accommodation lay with the Home Office.
However, a source from the Home Office said: “The bail conditions of this suspect is a matter for the police and we do not have any powers to detain him. There is no evidence he has absconded.”
A spokesperson for the department said: “If someone claiming asylum commits a criminal offence then their bail conditions would be set by the police in the usual way. Their subsequent movements would be dependent on the conditions set, and them abiding by them. The Home Office does not have powers to detain individuals solely because they are on police bail.
“If an asylum seeker absconds before a decision is made on their asylum claim, or if they fail to comply with our processes, we have a dedicated national absconder tracing team to track them down and bring them back into contact with the Home Office and their claim may be withdrawn.
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Referencing findings from the National Crime Agency, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone said of the thousands of young men arriving in the country: “on arrival they claim asylum, and then the Home Office transports this criminality to communities up and down the country to infiltrate the local crime scene”.
He added: “From where I’m sitting, at this present time, His Majesty’s Government is neither protecting our shores, nor protecting my local community from an increase in imported crime.”
Conservative MP Marco Longhi added that the treatment of migrants “forms a complete and utter mockery of our border control systems”.
He claimed they are “then put up in hotels across the country, fed, watered, and don’t have to pay energy bills for 400 days, I actually know for years and years.”
Mr Longhi called for the controversial Rwanda plan to be implemented, or for migrants to be sent “back to France”, arguing: “deterrence would be the main thing that stops the crossing in the first place.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants described the hotel scheme as “dysfunctional” and called for more structured means of processing refugees, including a holistic resettlement scheme and travel documents that discourage travelling through risky and illegal means, such as crossing the Channel in dinghies.