Ukrainian refugees staying with British hosts have not been cleared by criminal record checks | Immigration and Asylum

Ukrainians fleeing the war are being housed with British hosts who have had no criminal records, in the latest concern to crush the government’s response to the refugee crisis.

Under mounting pressure to iron out flaws in its plans, government sources told the Observer they created a “rematching” service to accommodate Ukrainians with people willing to help.

Tens of thousands of people who have expressed an interest in the UK’s Homes for Ukraine program will be contacted to say that the government is working with municipalities and charities to match them with Ukrainians who have arrived in the UK but become homeless after their retirement. original place has collapsed by or relatives could not receive them.

So far, more than 102,000 visas have been issued under the government’s two refugee schemes for Ukrainians, and 46,100 have arrived in the UK. Teething problems continue to plague the initiatives. In many cases, people have been housed for weeks by hosts who are still waiting for their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

Karen Liebreich, from west London, picked up her 21-year-old Ukrainian refugee from the airport five weeks ago, but said she was still waiting for the results of the checks.

She said: “My husband and I have now filled out our forms for the DBS checks, but she’s been here for five weeks and we still haven’t been cleared.”

The Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities – which is responsible for the scheme – contacted her last week to ask if it could use her as a case study, but Liebreich declined.

In an email to the department, she said:[Your] department was all over the press, assuring us that anyone housing a Ukrainian has had a completed DBS check. Since this is a categorical lie…I am unwilling to facilitate an interview to amplify a government message for ministers who seem to fail to understand the value of the truth.”

Ukrainian refugees
Ukrainian refugees at the Isaccea border crossing last month. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

With a DBS check, employers and other organizations can look at the criminal record of someone applying for a position, if they have one.

On Thursday, another host of a Ukrainian mother and son in Essex also said they had arrived but had “not been checked” and asked the council for an explanation.

Another host from Essex wrote on Facebook: “Our guests, including young children, arrived on April 14 and we were not sent the links for the enhanced DBS check until last Friday. [6 May]†

Essex County Council said the delays had been due to the “volume” of cases, but that it was “giving priority to those who already had guests with them”, and last week began in-person DBS checks at two offices to “speed things up” further”.

In response to such problems and concerns about homelessness, a parliamentary committee this week will urge the government to fix its “completely dysfunctional” schemes.

Clive Betts, chair of the leveling committee, said he had written to refugee secretary Richard Harrington about security fears for Ukrainians and their potential to become homeless.

Maggie Filipova-Rivers, of the City of Sanctuary network of 120 municipalities, said the delay between housing Ukrainians and DBS checks on their host was worrisome. She highlighted a recent case where a family in Worcester was at risk of becoming homeless after problems arose with their host.

“Someone received a family living on a mattress in the kitchen and asked them for money; it was a potential exploitation case,” said Filipova-Rivers.

Worcester City Council said that while no security concerns had been identified in this case, the property had been found to be “unsuitable”. But the host had ignored this and proceeded with the placement.

Then the council had become aware of “problems in the relationship between sponsor and their guests” – the Ukrainian family had asked for help on Facebook, leading to a support group offering alternative accommodation in Derby and then Sheffield.

Misha Lagodinsky, who runs a matching program called UK Welcomes Ukraine, which has 100 Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking volunteers connecting people, said: “Some people find themselves homeless right away because they got a visa and then fail. their host DBS controls.”

Charlie Richards, a volunteer with a different plan, said he had heard about Ukrainian families sleeping on couches after becoming homeless.

Concerns have grown over the government’s failure to release the data it holds on the number of Ukrainians presenting themselves as homeless to municipalities. A source said the data was planned to be revealed soon, and that the numbers related to the Homes for Ukraine plan had been “very small” so far.

They added that it was never the intention to run DBS checks on all hosts before the Ukrainians arrived, as the priority was to get people “out of danger” first.

A government spokesman said: “The Homes for Ukraine program has strict safeguards in place, and the Home Office carries out security and background checks on all sponsors before issuing visas. Municipalities also carry out checks and must make at least one in-person visit to a sponsor’s property.”

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