Campaigners warned that the coronavirus lockdown would trigger a mental health crisis among 'traumatised' asylum seekers in Glasgow weeks before a
Campaigners warned that the coronavirus lockdown would trigger a mental health crisis among ‘traumatised’ asylum seekers in Glasgow weeks before a knifeman injured six people during a rampage in a hotel on Friday.
Armed officers were scrambled at lunchtime yesterday to the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street, where immigrants were being housed during the pandemic, after the Sudanese knifeman launched his stabbing spree.
But the coronavirus lockdown, imposed in March, allegedly triggered previous trauma in the ‘vulnerable’ group of migrants, some of whom had reportedly experienced war and sexual assault.
Campaigners flagged their concerns to Scottish newspaper The Herald before Friday’s attack and called on more mental health support from the Government.
Ronier Deumeni, from charity African Challenge Scotland, which has been giving weekly food packs to black and minority ethnic (BAME) families during lockdown, said the measures imposed to combat coronavirus have triggered ‘post-traumatic stress.’
Another activist said campaigners had been saying ‘for months’ that the asylum seekers were ‘not well’ and that the attack was a ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’ rather than terrorism.
Among the injured in the rampage was a 17-year-old boy, hotel staff and hero police officer David Whyte, who raced to the scene of the stabbing spree at around 1pm.
He was critically injured after being stabbed around the eye while trying to overpower the attacker. He is said to be in a critical but stable condition in hospital.
Within a matter of a few minutes, firearms officers arrived and the knifeman was shot dead. Dramatic pictures showed hordes of emergency services outside the hotel, including armed officers running through the street.
Campaigners warned that the coronavirus lockdown would trigger a mental health crisis among ‘traumatised’ asylum seekers in Glasgow weeks before a knifeman injured six people during a rampage in a hotel on Friday. Pictured: Police and paramedics rushed to the hotel after the attack
Armed officers were scrambled at lunchtime yesterday to the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street, where immigrants were being housed during the pandemic, after the Sudanese knifeman launched his stabbing spree. Pictured: Officers stand guard near a bouquet of flowers outside the hotel on Saturday
Mr Deumeni added: ‘We are receiving an increased number of calls as people come under so much pressure.
‘Levels of anxiety and depression are very high and lockdown has triggered incidences of post-traumatic stress, with people being reminded of treatment during detention or before they came to the UK. There is real atmosphere of fear.’
Hero police officer David Whyte was critically injured while responding to the attack
According to the Refugee Council, which supports refugees and asylum seekers, 61 per cent of the latter group experience serious mental distress.
Refugees are also five times more likely to have mental health needs when compared to the rest of the UK population, according to the council’s research.
The No Evictions Network Glasgow, which has been campaigning to improve conditions for asylum seekers housed in hotels in the city, claim food provided by Home Officer contractor Mears, which was employed to house asylum seekers in hotels in Glasgow, is often rotten or undercooked.
Before embarking on his rampage, Friday’s attacker had complained he was ‘very hungry’ amid ‘poor conditions’ in the hotel during the coronavirus crisis.
The Scottish Refugee Council’s services manager Esther Muchena told the Herald that the asylum system ‘aggravates’ ‘complex traumas’ and existing health conditions.
The Telegraph also reported that activists have been hounding both Mears Group and the Home Office about poor conditions in the hotels since at least June 4, reported the Telegraph.
The Park Inn hotel is one of six in Glasgow that have been used as accommodation for up to 300 asylum seekers during the coronavirus crisis. It is understood 100 were in the Park Inn at the time of the attack.
Some asylum seekers complained they were forced to share bathrooms – something that made social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic impossible and worsened mental health issues, according to activists who have accused the provider of ‘lying about conditions in the hotels’.
Ako Zada from Kurdish Community Scotland said it was unlikely to be a terror attack, and poor conditions at the hotel causing depression and mental illness was to blame.
‘I believe there’s around 100 in the hotel but new people are always coming and going,’ he said.
‘They were doing a demonstration last week and in George Square they were attacked by a far-right group. They’re not getting £5 a day to buy essentials and don’t know when they will be able to go home.
‘I don’t think it’s a terrorist issue. People have been saying this for months, they’re not well. The hotel is OK for a couple of weeks but not three months. It’s depression and it’s a mental health issue. I’m very sad and devastated.’
No Evictions Glasgow tweeted that the authorities ‘knew the truth’ about the treatment of asylum seekers in the city. It claimed the Home Office had cut financial support because the hotels offered three meals a day.
This meant people were left without basic medication such as painkillers.
Mohammed Asif, a 54-year-old campaigner for refuge rights in Glasgow told the newspaper: ‘A volunteer from the Unity Centre stated that, in the same hotel, a man with a cardiac condition began to experience anxiety attacks.
‘Despite this he was only attended to 48 hours later and over the phone,’
One resident complained of ‘severe depression’ but had to wait two weeks for a response to his request to see a doctor.
It was also alleged another resident spoke to Mears about deteriorating mental health in the hotels but they were ‘largely ignored’.
A spokesman for Mears group, which provided the hotel as a home to asylum seekers, said: ‘Mears Group is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic events in the heart of Glasgow today. We are contracted by the Home Office to provide housing and support services to asylum seekers in Scotland.
‘We will not anticipate a live police investigation, but we can confirm that the attack happened in a hotel where we are housing asylum seekers during the lockdown period.
‘We will provide more details as we are able to and our priority is to look after the welfare of our service users who will no doubt be traumatised by this terrible event. Tonight, we also think of the staff in the hotel and our colleagues at the scene – all are in our thoughts.’
Mears refused to comment on the activists’ claims but previously accused them of ‘spreading false and misleading information’.
Police officers attend the scene after reports of a stabbing rampage in a central Glasgow hotel at around 1pm yesterday
Armed police wore helmets and facemasks as they stormed the street at the height of the incident at Park Inn in Glasgow
Immigration Enforcement officers arrived at the scene in West George Street, Glasgow, shortly after the attack
Police and forensic officers are pictured at the scene with medical incident officers as an investigation into the stabbings began on Friday
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon heaped praise on PC Whyte’s heroic actions after the attack yesterday.
His family are understood to be by his bedside.
Ms Sturgeon said in a statement: ‘While such a serious incident is rare in Scotland it is another reminder of the courage and professionalism of our police officers who are willing to run towards danger in order to protect the lives of others.’
The Scottish First Minister added: ‘Our thoughts and our gratitude should be with our police officers – particularly that police officer who sustained injuries trying to keep the rest of the public safe.’
Asylum seekers staying in the Park Inn Hotel were living on less than £5-a-day before the attacker ‘went mad and attacked people around him’.
He was shot by armed officers who arrived at the scene within two minutes, a Police Scotland spokesman said.
An activist told the Telegraph the man had threatened violence against other refugees and complained he was ‘very hungry’ after being re-housed in the hotel. The knifeman is the only fatality.
Another five people were being treated at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, including a 17-year-old boy from Sierra Leone. The ages of the other four injured are 18, 20, 38 and 53.
The victims are thought to be two receptionists, a maintenance employee, and guests staying at the hotel.
The force declared a major incident and set up a half-mile cordon in the city centre after the male suspect ran into the Park Inn Hotel and began his attack.
Witnesses described the bloodbath as ‘carnage’, with one delivery driver saying he helped to save the life of a victim after finding a maintenance man and a receptionist wounded on the floor.
Police were seen standing behind a cordon near the hotel on Saturday. Behind them, a bouquet of flowers could be seen
Police guarded the scene as a large cordon was set up around the scene following the tragic killings of at least two people
A man is led away by police officers at the scene. The hotel is one of six in Glasgow that have been used as accommodation for up to 300 asylum seekers during the coronavirus crisis. It is understood 100 were in the Park Inn at the time of the attack
Passersby were asked to leave the area by officers as Glasgow city centre was put under lockdown with a large cordon around the crime scene
A blanket is raised as a body is moved out of the hotel as Glasgow suffered a devastating knife attack in a city centre hotel
It has been confirmed the attacker was shot dead by armed police after the rampage. He was a ‘loner’ who wasn’t ‘mentally healthy’, according to a friend of one of the victims.
Daniel Redhead, an asylum seeker from Grenada, had gone to the Park Inn Hotel to pick up some tobacco from a friend when the attacker went on a rampage.
He said: ‘My friend was screaming help me, help me. I saw him trying to fight the guy off as he was stabbing him. The man’s face was calm.
‘He wasn’t even angry. He left my friend there and stabbed another man on the step. There was blood everywhere, so much blood.’
Mr Redhead said the attacker had harassed one of his friends before, describing him as a ‘loner who spoke very little’.
He said: ‘He didn’t speak much. I saw him around. But he barely spoke. I think he was not mentally healthy.’
His friend was stabbed twice in the stomach at the hotel where a police officer who was one of the first on the scene was also stabbed. Armed police ran to the hotel soon after and shot the attacker dead.
Recalling his friend’s cries for help, Mr Redhead said: ‘I just held him. He was so scared.’
A witness spoke to a colleague working in another Glasgow Hotel and relayed to her the horror inside the hallway of Glasgow’s Park Inn Hotel.
She added: ‘He was naturally very upset and scared about what he has seen. It is terrible. The man just went mad and the police shot him within a few minutes.
‘He told me two receptionists, a maintenance employee and a few other guests and a police officer were attacked and it happened very fast.’
Armed officers clutched their weapons as they headed to the scene. Officers arrived at the hotel within two minutes of the start of the stabbing rampage
Police standing outside the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street in Glasgow yesterday after a major stabbing incident
Armed officers were filmed running down West George Street with the BBC claiming that the knifeman was shot dead
The Park Inn Hotel is believed to have been housing asylum seekers in Glasgow (people pictured outside the hotel) – and is one of six city hotels caring for 300 migrants during the coronavirus crisis
Armed police officers made their way out of the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow as reports emerged three people have been killed
Police and other emergency services attending the scene of a stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow yesterday
This footage showed armed police removing people from the hotel, who all left with their hands raised, after the horrifying incident. An injured person is taken away on a trolley by paramedics after a major incident in Glasgow where it was reported that multiple people have been stabbed
The incident saw the West George Street area of north-west Glasgow shut down with at least 20 police units in attendance
Asylum seekers who escaped the Glasgow stabbing told MailOnline of the knife horror and the tension which preceded the violence
The horrifying incident came just six days after three men were murdered in a Reading park in a suspected terror attack – although Police Scotland has not yet given a motive for the Glasgow incident.
Footage from the scene minutes after the attack showed armed officers storming along West George Street and witnesses described ‘bloodied’ people being taken from Park Inn on stretchers.
One video shows a male police officer lying on the floor outside the hotel after being stabbed in the leg with another man sitting on the stairs appearing to hold a bleeding wound on his neck. Meanwhile a man was shown being taken away in handcuffs after the suspect was shot dead.
Steve Johnson, Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland, said: ‘Police were on the scene within two minutes. A man was shot by armed police.
‘Six other men are in hospital receiving treatment, including a 42-year-old police officer. The officer’s family are aware and being supported.
‘The other men in hospital are aged 17, 18, 20, 38 and 53. Our thoughts are with the families of those who are injured, including our colleague.
‘This incident is not being treated as terrorism and our investigation’s continuing into the circumstances. The street remains closed and people should avoid the area.’
The delivery driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘The hotel is housing refugees during the coronavirus. I went into the hotel and a guy had stabbed the receptionist and maintenance guy.
‘He then ran back up to a room. I was trying to stem the blood of the maintenance guy when the armed police rushed in and went up to his room and shot the guy. It was absolute carnage.
‘I was on the floor trying to hold the guy, the maintenance guy – a big puncture wound. It was absolutely horrific’.
Radisson Hotel Group, which owns the Park Inn Hotel, said in a statement that it is ‘deeply saddened by the tragic event’ and confirmed the hotel had been occupied ‘for temporary housing’.
Police responded swiftly to a 999 call as armed officers (pictured) ran down the road towards the attacker
Tom Flanagan Kartunnen, Area Senior Vice President Northern & Western Europe, said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the tragic event that happened today on West George Street in Glasgow. We are working with the hotel owner and all the relevant local authorities, including Police Scotland, to support the investigation.
‘Police Scotland has confirmed the incident has been contained and there is no further threat to the public. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel has been occupied for temporary housing. For more information on the incident, please contact Police Scotland.’
Nicola Sturgeon said her ‘thoughts are with all those people who have been caught up in this terrible incident’ and thanked ‘all of those police officers whose quick and decisive actions contained the incident’.
The First Minister of Scotland added: ‘It’s been a dreadful afternoon for the city of Glasgow’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘Deeply saddened by the terrible incident in Glasgow, my thoughts are with all the victims and their families. Thank you to our brave emergency services who are responding.’
Downing Street said Boris Johnson’s ‘thoughts remain’ with those injured during the incident in Glasgow on Friday.
A Number 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has this afternoon spoken with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the incident in Glasgow.
‘He has also held a meeting with the Home Secretary and senior police officers, in which he was updated.
‘The Prime Minister thanked the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, for the exceptional bravery of his officers at the scene.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Deeply alarming reports coming from Glasgow. Please follow police advice and avoid the area. Thoughts are with the emergency services as they continue to respond to this incident.’
Justice Minister Humza Yousaf praised Constable Whyte for his ‘immense bravery’ and police officers for being ‘once again at the front line keeping us safe’.
In a statement, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said he advised the First Minister and Prime Minister that police are ‘not treating the attack as a terrorist incident’ and urged the public not to ‘gather in crowds’ this weekend.
He said: ‘Terrible incidents such as we have seen today are, thankfully, very rare in Scotland. This event has understandably shocked the people of Glasgow, and indeed, the whole country.
‘My thoughts and very best wishes are with those who have been injured and their families, including our colleague Constable David Whyte who was seriously injured in the course of doing his duty. I offer my personal support to all those affected.
‘Officers have once again run into danger to protect their fellow citizens. Their professionalism as police officers was outstanding. I pay tribute to their bravery, selflessness and commitment to protecting the public.
‘I briefed the First Minister and the Prime Minister earlier today on the circumstances and advised them both that we are not treating the attack as a terrorist incident. It is essential enquiries are now carried out to establish the full circumstances and all speculation must be avoided.’
The Chief Constable added: ‘Scotland is a safe place to live and work. We have cohesive communities who work with their police service to maintain our peaceful and respectful way of life.
‘In the context of the current health emergency, and to respect those injured today and the people of Glasgow, I ask everyone to exercise personal responsibility. Please, do not gather in crowds this weekend.’
A person is wheeled from the hotel by emergency service workers in white suits – but police have said the threat is over
police officer staffs a cordon as emergency services attend the scene of a fatal stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel
A cordon around a half-mile wide encircled the crime scene and is being maintained by a large police presence
Police speak to hotel residents around 30 minutes after the attack took place this afternoon with officers seen taking away evidence in bags
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said: ‘We are continuing to deal with the incident on West George Street, Glasgow and would ask people to avoid the area. However, I would like to reassure the public that this is a contained incident and that the wider public is not at risk.
‘Armed police officers attended the incident and I can confirm that a male suspect was shot by an armed officer. I would like to reassure the public that at this time we are not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident.
‘I can also confirm that a police officer was injured while dealing with the incident and that officer is receiving treatment in hospital.’
Nicholas, 27, was staying in the hotel and said: ‘I heard people screaming. When I went down to the reception there was blood everywhere. Two of the receptionists had been stabbed, both males.
‘There was a man who was holding his waist. I told them to stay calm and not worry. I saw another receptionist who was lying on the stairs, they’d been stabbed.
‘There were two police officers so I told them what happened. After I came out from the hotel I heard people say the attacker’s still in the hotel but I didn’t come across him.
‘When I was out of the hotel for ten minutes one of the police officers came out with blood on his face, he had been stabbed. My mum’s still in our room – I’ve told her not to come out.’
Police attend the scene of a fatal stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel in central Glasgow at around 1pm yesterday
Police and other emergency services attending the scene of a stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow
Police standing outside the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street in Glasgow after a major stabbing incident
Armed police bringing out residents of the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street in Glasgow after a major incident
Another man, Shaun, said he saw a man enter the reception area and stab two people. He said: ‘I heard loud noises. A woman screaming and man screaming for help, but I couldn’t see from my window what’s going on.
‘I took the stairs to the ground floor and in the reception it was full of blood everywhere on the floor, a receptionist got stabbed. And then when I went out of the entrance, I saw another receptionist got stabbed. The sad part is I know them. I called my mum and told her immediately not to come down from the room.’
Another witness told Radio Clyde News: ‘I came down the stairs and there was blood all over the reception area. I came outside and there was another person lying on the ground receiving treatment.’
Craig Milroy, who saw the aftermath of the incident from an office building nearby, said he had seen four people taken away in ambulances. He said: ‘I saw a man lying on the ground, of African descent, with no shoes on. He was on the ground with someone holding his side – I don’t know if it was a bullet wound, a stab wound, or what it was.’
Mr Milroy said the man was one of the four taken away by medics and believed him to be a victim of an attack.
He added: ‘We were still standing outside, after that the police all came down, the riot police and triage team told us to go back in and lock the door.’
The Park Inn Glasgow, which is owned by the Radisson chain, is believed to have been housing asylum seekers since April – and its website states that it is temporarily closed until August 2.
Mohammad Asif, from the Glasgow-based Afghan Human Rights Foundation, tweeted: ‘Multiple people attacked and stabbed in Glasgow city centre Park Inn hotel. The hotel also houses asylum seekers.
‘I am told by an asylum seeker resident in the hotel that they are not allowed to speak to anyone. He said many people have stabbed by knives.’
Glasgow-born actor John Barrowman tweeted a video from California saying he had woken up to the ‘horrific, horrible news about the stabbings’.
He said: ‘Our love and strength to all who have lost family members in the horrific stabbings in Glasgow Scotland. I belong to Glasgow and my heart is hurt today for the people and the city. Strength and Love.’
Armed officers were patrolling the area but believe the threat was neutralised after the suspect was shot
Officers drove back people as the cordon grew around the hotel, which is said to have faced protests in recent weeks
Specialist police officers speak via radios after they gunned down the male suspect this afternoon
Police officers including forensics officers attend the scene of a fatal stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel
Horrified witnesses claim ‘multiple’ people may have been stabbed in a broad daylight knife attack. One told MailOnline: ‘It’s shocking. Things have been so quiet with lockdown.
‘I heard the sirens and then there were police, some with automatic weapons and bullet proof vests running around. Somebody told me there was blood all over the road. I’m so upset and just want to get home.’
Witness Callum O’Brien, who lives in a flat near the scene, told Mirror Online: ‘I didn’t see the attack and first I was aware was from multiple sirens outside.
‘I can’t see round the corner to where the attack took place but I have seen four people taken into ambulances. They were all taken on stretchers. One was very bloodied, the others not so much.’
He added moments later: ‘A fifth has just been taken into an ambulance and was surrounded by paramedic and police and being given oxygen, noticeably more so than the others so this may have been the attacker but don’t have anything else to go on other than that sorry.’
A witness named Louisa told Sky News: ‘I was in a building on West George Street, I was higher up so I could see what was going on. We’re inside, we’re safe on a high floor, we’re staying put for the time being.
‘In the aftermath I saw people who were being treated, there were covered in blood, there was blood all over them. There were armed police telling people to come out of the hotel with their hands up… there was a large group of them. I saw at least three being treated at the scene before they were taken away in ambulances.’
There were police cars, ambulances all over the street. Another witness told the Daily Record: ‘We’ve barricaded our offices because we were being safe in case it was terrorism. This is really scary.’
Forensic officers at the scene in West George Street, Glasgow, where a man has been shot by an armed officer after another officer was injured during an attack
Police officers push back a cordon as they attend the scene of a fatal stabbing incident at the Park Inn Hotel
The hotel has been evacuated and are being helped by police officers and paramedics
A police officer gestures at the scene of reported multiple stabbings at West George Street in Glasgow
The Scottish Defence League held a rally in Glasgow’s George Square on June 17 and clashed with asylum seekers. George Square is located just a five-minute walk away from the Park Inn hotel.
The asylum seekers’ rally was organised by the group No Evictions, which is campaigning for those who have been allegedly removed from their homes and rehouses in the ‘cramped and degrading’ hotels.
Mark White, from Sky News, said: ‘Several people have been injured in a serious incident in Glasgow city centre. Armed police have sealed off West George Street. Eyewitnesses have told they saw people, bloodied, being taken on stretchers from the Park Inn hotel.’
LBC reporter Fraser Knight posted: ‘Reports of multiple stabbings in Glasgow City Centre and a potential major incident with upwards of 20 police vehicles, riot shields, armed officers and paramedics on West George Street
‘Around 20 police vehicles, armed officers, sniffer dogs and riot shields are on the scene at West George Street in Glasgow. Lots of shouting and huge number of paramedics in hazmat suits.
‘Huge police and ambulance response to an incident on West George Street in Glasgow – reports of a police officer being stabbed.’
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said an officer has been stabbed during a major incident in Glasgow.
The SPF tweeted: ‘We are aware of reports a police officer has been stabbed in an incident in Glasgow city centre. Our officials are in attendance to provide all necessary support.
‘Please allow our collages the space to do their jobs. Further updates will be provided when we are able to do so.’
It added: ‘We appreciate families of police officers in £Glasgow will be anxious to hear that a police officer has been stabbed. Please be aware the family of the officer has been notified and is being supported by the service.
In a statement on Twitter, police said the incident is ‘contained’ and there is no danger to the general public.
Greater Glasgow Police tweeted: ‘Emergency services are currently dealing with an incident on West George Street in Glasgow. The street is currently closed off and the public are asked to avoid the area at present.
‘The situation is contained at this time and there is no danger to the general public.’
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘Please follow advice to avoid the West George Street area of Glasgow while @policescotland deal with this ongoing incident.’