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Accommodation and detention

Destitute asylum seekers can be offered accommodation on a no-choice basis in houses, flats or hostels provided by local councils or private landlords.

Under the national dispersal scheme, the locations offered are normally outside London or south-east England, which the government says have accommodated more than their fair share.

If an applicant turns down an offer of accommodation they run the risk of receiving no help at all.

Although most asylum seekers are free to make their homes in the UK while a decision is made on their claim, others are detained.

Some are held at places such as the Oakington Reception Centre, near Cambridge, if their application is being fast-tracked.

Others are detained because the authorities believe that they will fail to maintain voluntary contact with the Home Office and will disappear. At the end of 2002 there were almost 800 asylum detainees in the UK.

Accommodation centres

Those not detained can be required to report to the authorities on a regular basis. Failure to do so can result in their asylum application being rejected.

As an alternative to using houses, flats and hostels for non-detained asylum seekers, the government is hoping to introduce specialised asylum accommodation centres.

Proposals exist to create several large centres at various locations around the UK with four pilot centres currently in the pipeline.

Proposed numbers at each centre vary, but most would hold approximately 750 people.

Although not yet built they are already being opposed by local residents' groups and refugees' pressure groups, and six proposed sites have been shelved.

Typical accommodation in reception centres


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