Protest over asylum housing

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CHRISTIANS joined protesters to demonstrate against plans to bring in a private security firm to take over responsibility for housing hundreds of asylum seekers in South Yorkshire.

Representatives of the Methodist and Catholic Churches attended the protest outside Sheffield Town Hall held as the UK Border Agency confirmed a deal with the security firm G4S to provide housing for asylum seekers.

Opponents are unhappy the firm, which runs detention centres, is taking over the contract from councils and fear asylum seekers could be moved to cheaper accommodation, disrupting their lives.

Public services trade union Unison joined the demonstration because dozens of its members are expected to lose their jobs after the changes are made.

Stuart Crosthwaite, of South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, said: “Asylum seekers are not commodities to trade in the market place.

“We are concerned that the operational side of UKBA might see advantages in a G4S housing contract, because having a security firm involved might help them to keep tabs on asylum seekers’ behaviour and to monitor their activities.”

The protest, which followed a similar event last week, included the reading of a statement from a Zimbabwean asylum seeker who was charged with assault and then acquitted after an altercation with G4S security guards.