Lone women in Covid quarantine hotels to get female guards

1 week ago 9

By Sue Mitchell and Sarah McDermott
BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images

Women quarantining successful UK hotels volition present person pistillate guards, erstwhile possible, aft allegations of intersexual harassment.

The Department of Health and Social Care made the alteration aft a BBC study successful which women said 1 antheral defender had mimed having enactment successful a lift, and different had asked for a hug.

If pistillate guards are unavailable, women should beryllium escorted by 2 antheral guards.

Sixteen women person reported harassment to the BBC and immoderate accidental complaints person been ignored oregon disbelieved.

Sarah, a 23-year-old aesculapian pupil from Manchester who says she was taken by a defender connected a terrifying locomotion on deserted edifice corridors erstwhile she was quarantining successful the Radisson Red Heathrow successful April, welcomes the determination to supply pistillate guards for lone pistillate travellers.

Personally I would find 2 antheral guards much intimidating than conscionable 1 lone guard... I don't deliberation it ensures the information of women, alternatively it increases imaginable risk

But she is captious of the proposition to supply 2 antheral guards erstwhile pistillate guards are not disposable - "with each defender chaperoning the different to guarantee due behaviour," arsenic the DHSC puts it.

In her case, the defender she was expecting to instrumentality her connected an workout interruption via the nearest assistance grabbed her by the arm, asked if she had a boyfriend, and past showed her to a radical of different guards, who spoke unneurotic successful a overseas connection and laughed astatine her, she says.

"Personally I would find 2 antheral guards much intimidating than conscionable 1 lone guard," she says. "A radical of antheral guards were talking astir maine erstwhile they intelligibly saw 1 antheral defender was being inappropriate with me. I don't deliberation it ensures the information of women, alternatively it increases imaginable risk."

All of the women we person spoken to accidental they saw precise fewer pistillate guards successful quarantine hotels. G4S told the BBC: "The proportionality of women to men successful information serviceman roles astatine quarantine hotels is emblematic of the UK information manufacture and we are moving to pull much women to the role."

In different changes, the DHSC says each guards volition present beryllium fixed further grooming connected however to behave with susceptible guests "with much focused attraction connected the needs of lone pistillate guests". It did not respond to a question astir what the grooming consisted of oregon however agelong it lasted.

Hotel quarantine

  • Travellers arriving from countries connected the UK's reddish database (countries with the highest rates of Covid infection) are obliged to quarantine for 10 afloat days successful designated hotels
  • The outgo is £1,750 for a azygous adult, and includes Covid tests connected days 2 and eight
  • Guests indispensable enactment successful their country astatine each times but erstwhile escorted extracurricular by guards for workout - nutrient is delivered to the country and guests bash their ain cleaning
  • Security companies are contracted by the authorities to supply guards - the maximum worth of G4S's declaration from February to October was £66.5m, the maximum worth of Mitie's was £19.6m

The DHSC besides says determination is present a dedicated complaints squad for quarantine hotels, with a wide process successful spot for reporting problems.

At the clip of our archetypal communicative connected intersexual harassment allegations successful quarantine hotels, published connected 26 June, the hotels said complaints astir guards were a substance for the DHSC, which pays information companies to enforce quarantine rules successful the hotels. The DHSC, however, said it expected hotels to analyse guests' complaints.

Now hotels study concerns to the DHSC Managed Quarantine Service Complaints Team, which past investigates with the co-operation of the information companies.

"We are doing our upmost to guarantee each idiosyncratic successful managed quarantine gets the enactment they request and we're urgently moving to analyse complaints of this nature," a DHSC spokesperson said.

In June, we spoke to 4 women who accidental they were sexually harassed successful quarantine hotels aft flying backmost from countries connected the UK's Covid reddish list.

We person since been successful interaction with 12 more, including 1 who says she was harassed by 1 of the galore paramedics hired by the authorities to enactment successful the hotels. The cases include:

  • a pistillate who received a watercourse of Facebook messages from a defender who called her "dear" and "sweetheart", and knocked connected her doorway aft writing, "This evening I'll come"
  • a pistillate who says a defender knocked repeatedly connected her doorway - she past recovered a enactment addressed to her from "the gangly guard" saying she was "fit" and asking her to connection him
  • a 20-year-old teaching adjunct who says she was cat-called and wolf-whistled by G4S guards erstwhile she simply walked past a quarantine hotel

All of these 12 women accidental they are dissatisfied with the mode their complaints were handled, including 2 who person received a effect from the caller DHSC complaints team. A number, including Sarah, said they had received nary written effect astatine all.

Brittany

Brittany Dodds, 26, received 13 Facebook messages from a defender connected the 2nd time of her quarantine successful the Radisson Blu Edwardian edifice astatine Heathrow successful May. She had ignored his person petition and sent nary replies.

A South African lawyer, Brittany says she didn't face him oregon complain, due to the fact that she didn't privation to "possibly provoke him oregon origin a concern whereby helium would find a crushed to really bash something".

On her 4th afloat time successful quarantine, the defender sent a message, "This evening I'll come." She says she barricaded herself successful with her bags arsenic helium knocked repeatedly connected her door.

The adjacent day, erstwhile Brittany asked a antithetic defender to escort her backmost to her room, the archetypal defender seemed offended, she says, and knocked connected her door, complaining loudly.

"At this constituent I was shaking and had nary words due to the fact that I knew that helium was present pursuing me," Brittany says. She didn't permission her country again until the 10 nights of her quarantine were over.

It was lone erstwhile she had near that Brittany felt harmless capable to kick and had a video telephone with Darren Carter, caput of safety, information and sustainability for Edwardian Hotels, who asked her wherefore she hadn't reported the defender to the edifice absorption oregon to the police, she says.

image copyrightBrittany Dodds

"Carter insinuated that it was due to the fact that I hadn't taken immoderate steps to support myself that the information defender continued to bash what helium did, arsenic helium didn't cognize it was wrong.

"I told them that this was victim-blaming."

Radisson Hotels said it could not remark connected idiosyncratic guests, but added it was co-operating with a DHSC investigation. "The information and information of our guests and unit is of the utmost value for Radisson Hotel Group truthful we are taking these allegations precise seriously," the institution said successful a statement.

Brittany says she ne'er got a reply from G4S, adjacent though she emailed the caput of information for a radical of Heathrow hotels.

A spokesperson for G4S said: "We dainty each complaints highly seriously, study these promptly, enactment the Department of Health and Social Care to behaviour rigorous investigations successful each cases and instrumentality due enactment if the behaviour of immoderate information serviceman falls beneath the required standard."

Finally, connected 19 July, Brittany received an email from the DHSC managed quarantine work complaints team, saying that the defender had been dismissed, but adding that his messages contained "nothing that relates to a intersexual nature". The authoritative past repeated that Brittany could person reported the defender to the edifice oregon blocked the speech "if you was uncovering it stressful".

Brittany says that speechmaking the email made her "feel sick" and that she, the victim, was erstwhile again being blamed.

Caroline

Caroline, 48, from Nottingham, says she besides had a defender who kept knocking connected her doorway erstwhile she started quarantining connected 6 June astatine the Crowne Plaza NEC, connected her instrumentality from a travel to South Africa.

"He was saying, 'If there's thing you want, anything, you request to travel to me. Just ask, I tin assistance you get this stuff'," she says.

On the 2nd day, Caroline mentioned that she had not received her breakfast, truthful helium came backmost with a effect salad. He was precise affable and chatty, she says, erstwhile helium escorted her to and from workout outside.

"And past I was successful my country trying to bash my Covid tests and helium kept knocking connected the doorway again. To commencement with it was each close and I was similar 'Yes I'm conscionable trying to bash my Covid test', and past again a sound and he'd near a enactment extracurricular the door."

The enactment asked her to WhatsApp him. It had kisses connected it, and ended: "I deliberation you're acceptable - emotion a woman successful glasses."

Caroline complained, and the caput of information astatine the edifice - from the company, Mitie - told her that this was wholly retired of order. Caroline didn't spot the defender again and assumed that helium had been removed from the hotel.

But erstwhile the BBC asked Mitie to comment, the institution said it had recovered that the handwriting and telephone fig connected the enactment didn't lucifer those of the defender Caroline had described - oregon immoderate of the different guards connected displacement that day.

Asked however the institution thought the enactment had appeared, the institution said it expected precocious standards from information officers, each of whom were afloat trained "including connected the behaviours required of them" successful quarantine hotels. We asked whether the institution accepted that a defender whitethorn person much than 1 phone, but Mitie didn't respond.

Guards are stationed successful quarantine hotels to guarantee that guests bash not permission their rooms - and determination are nary non-quarantining guests - truthful different radical successful the edifice would person had small accidental to permission the note.

"Do they deliberation I americium making it up? That I wrote the enactment myself?" Caroline says. "It's ridiculous."

A spokesperson for the Crowne Plaza NEC said the institution was incapable to remark due to the fact that information companies were contracted by the DHSC.

Caroline has heard thing from the DHSC managed quarantine work complaints team.

Alice

A 20-year-old teaching assistant, Alice says she was walking past the Pentahotel successful Reading connected 3 June erstwhile G4S guards milling astir extracurricular it started wolf-whistling and cat-calling.

She wrote to the edifice to complain, but received nary reply for 3 weeks. Then connected 26 June - the time we published our archetypal communicative - she wrote again, and instantly received 2 replies. One was from the edifice manager, who said helium was escalating the ailment and sending CCTV footage to the DHSC's managed quarantine work complaints team.

image copyrightShutterstock

image captionThe Reading Pentahotel was sealed disconnected by metallic barriers portion it operated arsenic a quarantine hotel

The reply from the DHSC said the ailment was being rejected due to the fact that CCTV footage showed that Alice had entered edifice premises and that guards had had to escort her out. She wrote backmost saying that this was incorrect - she had not passed done the metallic barriers utilized to seal the edifice disconnected from the thoroughfare portion it was operating arsenic a quarantine hotel. The DHSC replied again saying the CCTV footage had been reviewed, and the section was sticking to its archetypal opinion.

"I'm truthful aggravated - they person called maine a liar, they ignored maine for ages. I deliberation it's disgusting," she says.

Eventually the DHSC sent Alice the CCTV video, and it showed idiosyncratic other entirely. She pointed this retired to them and has not heard backmost since.

Penta Hotels said it was not liable for the behaviour of guards, and the DHSC said it could not remark connected idiosyncratic cases.

Harriet Wistrich of the Centre for Women's Justice said edifice quarantine was an "incredibly oppressive situation" for galore women, peculiarly those travelling alone.

"They are efficaciously imprisoned and determination aren't capable pistillate guards to halt these incidents happening. Just putting connected an other antheral defender isn't bully capable - and it's besides rather oppressive."

She said the authorities couldn't "privatise out" its work for the information of these women and reiterated a telephone she made past period for wide guidance to beryllium fixed to everyone successful edifice quarantine astir who to interaction for assistance if they consciousness unsafe.

The DHSC spokesperson said "Sexual harassment and maltreatment are abhorrent - and each allegations of this are taken highly seriously... We volition not hesitate to instrumentality contiguous enactment to suspend unit wherever due and study to the constabulary if necessary."

More edifice quarantine stories

  • A defender knocked connected Pashmin Kinalekar's doorway past 10pm and asked if she wanted to get immoderate caller aerial with him - erstwhile she said No helium asked if helium could "watch a movie and chill" with her
  • Rosaria Lily Brenno says she and her sister were asked by guards astir their intersexual preferences - 1 speculated that they liked large penises, different knocked connected their doorway aft midnight
  • Maria (not her existent name) says she was treated for a panic onslaught by 1 hotel-based paramedic and hours aboriginal received an unexpected sojourn from different - helium tried putting his stethoscope wrong her shirt, hugged her to "calm her down", asked to cheque her stomach, and returned doubly the pursuing day
  • Safia (not her existent name) was pestered by a guard, who called her "beautiful" and "baby" connected a four-hour autobus travel from Heathrow to her hotel, earlier yet getting "too close" to her astatine 11pm successful an alley starring to the hotel's work entrance, and asking which antheral had "got specified a cleanable woman"

G4S said it had a "zero-tolerance approach" to unit who failed to dainty radical with respect. A spokesperson said: "To supply further assurance we person enhanced training, supervision and operational and safeguarding procedures. We person besides established an oversight assemblage comprising of women successful elder enforcement roles."

One pistillate who is presently quarantining astatine a Heathrow edifice said she felt harmless and the unit were friendly.

But she said that she had been fixed nary accusation connected however to marque a ailment and was escorted for workout either by a azygous pistillate guard, oregon by a azygous antheral guard, ne'er by two.

Another pistillate said she was asking specifically for a pistillate defender erstwhile requesting an workout break, and truthful acold it seemed to beryllium working.

Reporting intersexual harassment

  • Sexual harassment is immoderate benignant of unwanted behaviour of a intersexual quality that makes you consciousness humiliated oregon intimidated, oregon that creates a hostile environment
  • Try to support a grounds of your experiences of harassment including dates/times and details of what happened, successful lawsuit you determine to study it
  • If you're successful danger, telephone the constabulary connected 999
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