Using hotels to house suspected offenders is ‘lazy and devious'

26 August 2011 by
Using hotels to house suspected offenders is ‘lazy and devious'

Placing suspected offenders in hotels instead of prisons and detention centres is "lazy and devious behaviour".

That's the opinion of Travelodge chairman Grant Hearn who was reacting to a report on BBC's Newsnight last week that claimed Richmond Council had used a Premier Inn hotel to house a suspected young offender.

The news has highlighted industry concerns that the courts are using hotels inappropriately as last-minute accommodation for those on remand, with the prisons and detention centres full to bursting after London's recent riots.

Hearn said: "This wouldn't have been the first time this has happened. There have been plenty of occasions when problem families have been put in hotels before. It seems like an easy solution but it is lazy and devious behaviour and you don't expect that from your locally elected government. It's wrong for the companies involved, for their guests, the employees and it's probably not even right for the individuals."

He added that if hotels have to be used by councils to house special cases, then they should "always share the information with the company involved so that appropriate arrangements can be made."

A spokeswoman for Premier Inn, which is still investigating the Newsnight claims, said: "It is a practice that we would not support or co-operate with as clearly people on remand should be held in secure accommodation."

Richmond Council has subsequently criticised the programme, calling the story "misleading and incorrect".

But the BBC inquiries also led Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader for Richmond Council to admit that "from time to time and in very particular circumstances" the council might "utilise a variety of types of accommodation with support from outreach workers".

This admission has prompted wider debate of the issue, being reminiscent of the use of the lower-end of the B&B market to house problem families.

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, warned: "Clearly hotels should not be used to house anyone convicted of a crime. That would be extremely bizarre."

But he added: "In this instance, it would seem there could have been a one-off case of the state needing to look after someone for a night, which is a different scenario entirely.

"There must be other places that can be used as temporary accommodation."

Richmond Council denies Premier Inn was used to house young offender >>]( Emily Manson

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