Call for public inquiry into deaths at hotel used as homeless accommodation during lockdown

Call for public inquiry into deaths at hotel used as homeless accommodation during lockdown

A police investigation has been launched into the deaths of eight people in a Glasgow hotel used to house people who were homeless during lockdown. 

Reports in the Scottish Sun revealed that four men and four women have died in the Alexander Thompson Hotel on Argyle Street since March, with only one “non-suspicious” case resolved. 

A woman, 38 died at the city centre hotel on April 25 before a man, 21, passed away on May 17.

The deaths of two men aged 43 were recorded within two weeks of one another on June 7 and June 21.

A man, aged 25, and a woman aged 44, both died on July 28, and a 49-year-old woman was reported dead on August 27. The following day, a woman of 48 died. Her death was treated as not suspicious by police, the paper reported but seven others are as yet unexplained. 

Chief Inspector Craig Walker of Greater Glasgow Division said: “We can confirm officers attended the report of concern for a person within a hotel in Argyle Street, Glasgow, around 7.35 am on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

“The officers and the Scottish Ambulance Service dealt with a 44-year-old woman who had taken unwell. She later died at the scene.

“Her death is currently being treated as unexplained and a post mortem has been carried out to establish the exact cause of death. Our enquires are ongoing and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

“While it is a matter for the local authority where homeless people are accommodated, we know many may have complex needs and we work closely with Glasgow City Council, and other third sector partner organisations, to signpost them to the most appropriate support services.”

Scottish Tenants Organisation campaign coordinator, Sean Clerkin, said the revelations indicate “a complete lack of support” for homeless people staying in hotels throughout Glasgow and other parts of Scotland.

He added: “We are calling for a public inquiry into these tragic deaths and the way homeless people are being treated in hotels throughout Scotland as it clear that there is an insufficient infrastructure of support for homeless people with drug and alcohol problems.

“The Scottish Government keep mouthing platitudes about helping the homeless so the time is now to provide better medical help and improve other vital services to the homeless including moving them to a far better standard of temporary accommodation and soon thereafter into permanent social housing like Housing First where vulnerable homeless people can also get the wraparound services they need.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership said: “These deaths are tragic and our thoughts go out to the friends and families of those who have passed away.

“We have ensured the hotel is well supported by staff from voluntary organisations and the HSCP who provide in-reaching services and assistance to those who require it. These services provide accessible routes into mental health and addiction treatment services. We continue to review these arrangements with key partners regularly and where necessary, will make changes ensuring those with the most complex needs are supported.

 “We have also located our Housing First Assessment Team in the hotel to support people into more settled accommodation as it becomes available with the lifting of COVID restrictions and as the city’s Registered Social Landlords return to business as usual. Housing First is for people with complex needs and permanent accommodation is accompanied by intensive wraparound support to help people with any health issues, and to maintain their tenancies.”

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