A hotel in Crystal Palace has begun rehousing its almost 300 male refugee residents following reports of rape and poor conditions rife within the hotel. 

Male residents at the hotel housing asylum seekers have been given the ultimatum of moving into a double room with another refugee or being relocated to another hotel in near Heathrow.

More than 450 refugees have been housed at the Queens Hotel since late 2021 while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.

Recent reports of the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl and sexual assaults made by 17 different hotel staff members have forced the hotel’s owner, Clearsprings to act.

Your Local Guardian: A small box room in the Queen's Hotel (photo:Adam Yasir)A small box room in the Queen's Hotel (photo:Adam Yasir)

Clearsprings run the hotel on behalf of the Home Office.

Adam Yasir, Croydon resident and co-chair of the Croydon Refugee and New Communities Forum, has been supporting those living at Queen’s Hotel for a number of years.

He told the local democracy reporting service (LDRS): “The council has been notified that the hotel will remove all the single men due to assist their maximisation policy.

"This means putting two men in one room, which increases the risks to vulnerable groups that we already have.

"Some of the men who have said they don’t want to go have been threatened with relocation, and those who have complied have been put in these rooms. This maximisation policy from the hotel is making them more money.”

“About twenty have been moved since Friday. A lot of them as you can imagine have ties to the area.

"This could be receiving counselling or visiting a local GP. Some of them will also be going to colleges nearby. The home office and hotel are asking them to provide evidence of this, or they will be sent to West Drayton.”

“When I spoke to some of the people that this has affected last week, I felt really bad for them as they should not have been in this place to begin with.

"Some of them have said they can’t get to Croydon and back to get the evidence from the counsellor and mental health specialists they need because they only get £8.24 a week.

"Being moved into an industrial area in West Drayton will not help their mental health. To be honest, I don’t believe all 300 men will even get the choice.”

In January last year, Adam told the LDRS how a Kurdish man in his early 20s tried to take his own life – he was one of the people living in a windowless basement room, according to the volunteer.

He added: “It was evidence of how their mental health has deteriorated.”

Campaigners like Yasir have frequently complained to both Croydon Council and the Home Office about the conditions at the Crystal Palace hotel.

They have previously described the rooms as being like a prison cell and have criticised the local authority for not adequately providing adequate accommodation to their local vulnerable residents. 

Yasir told the LDRS: “Some of the rooms are really awful. They are windowless, with no A/C. They can also get as cold as minus one or two in the rooms. Some of the people reported not knowing whether it is day or night.

"They compare the conditions here to being in a prison cell. There are also unaccompanied child asylum seekers at the hotel, up to the age of 18. For the hotel to place one of these children in a room with an adult is not great. The refugee council has stepped in to challenge the local authority on that because they have a statutory requirement to protect vulnerable children and men.”

He added: “We would like the hotel to be downsized or shut to refugees completely, so people can be housed adequately. We don’t encourage the hotel to push people out in such a manner, especially given that the request will completely cut them off from essential services like mental health support or local connections.

"We would also say that if people are sent to West Drayton, they should be supported with a bus fare from there, so they can continue to access the services in Croydon. That is the approach we would like to see, but at the moment it’s very insincere, I must say.”

When approached for comment, a representative from the Home Office said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and at every stage in the process – from initial arrival, to any potential relocations – our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and considered.

"We continue to provide safe accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we work to end the use of hotels which are costing UK taxpayers £8.2 million a day.”

A Croydon Council spokesperson said: “We are actively working with the Home Office and local partners to ensure that vulnerable people in the hotel are protected.”

Clearsprings did not respond to a request for comment.