Plans That Allow Female Ukrainian Refugees To Be Placed With Single Men Dismissed As “Dangerous”
Women from Ukraine who come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme could be placed with single men, sparking concern from housing charities.
In a new interview with The House, refugee minister Lord Harrington confirmed that there is currently no policy that would prevent female refugees being placed with single men under the scheme.
Charities have warned that the policy, which aims to place Ukrainian refugees with sponsors in the UK, could be exploited by predatory men seeking to become sponsors. In an effort to streamline the policy and allow Ukrainians to come to the UK more quickly, some background checks were initially delayed.
The BBC has found indications that in some local authorities, as many as 30% of registered would-be sponsors were single men, with the majority asking to host young single women.
Lord Harrington stressed that the government is taking “safeguarding very seriously indeed” and advised that he wasn’t aware of a “case with a single man with a single woman”, but admitted there was not a separate policy that would disallow this from happening.
Charities including Positive Action in Housing have described the scheme as "dangerous" and stressed they would never place women with single men.
Under the official scheme, the UK sponsor is required to undergo a Police National Computer (PNC) check before they are accepted. In addition, when children are involved, there are advanced DBS checks that local authorities are paid to do, Lord Harrington advised.
Harrington has urged charities concerned about safeguarding to speak to him about the reports. He says he is aware of people posting ads for refugee placements on Facebook groups, but argues people connecting over these “couldn’t come here because in order to get the visa you have to have a sponsor and be linked”.
He said his department is in touch with social media companies to take these posts down where possible.
There has also been concern about the trafficking of refugees and fraudulent claims. Harrington is clear that they “do every possible check” but also states the checks for refugees are the “minimum” and essentially amount to an identity check.
“The Home Office is always accused of being too much the other way. I get two sets of criticism. One is we should abolish visas… and the other is we shouldn’t have single men”, Harrington told The House.
The minister also advised that early delays to the scheme were because the Home Office “erred on the side of caution” by banning anyone who was flagged on a PNC check. The scheme is now operating under a ‘Red, Amber, Green’ system to ensure people aren’t being unnecessarily excluded from becoming sponsors.
“When you look within PNC checks people have things that they did 20 years ago which may have been bad, but they weren’t bad in any way that might be dangerous to a child”, Harrington stresses.
“The system is much more sophisticated than it was,” he added.
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