Red Doors and Red Wristbands: Britain’s Secret Apartheid Systems

January 26, 2016   |   Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton
January 26, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — A private firm housing U.K. asylum seekers announced on Monday that it will stop making refugees wear red wristbands after their stigmatising identification policy was met with a public outcry.

Clearsprings Ready Homes in Cardiff has a contract with the Home Office to provide accommodation to those seeking asylum in the city. Since May 2015, the firm has operated a policy of issuing asylum seekers with the red plastic bands which they were instructed to wear at all times. The distinctive wristbands entitled asylum seekers, who are not permitted to work, to three meals a day.

Residents of Cardiff’s Lynx House who provide initial accommodation for asylum seekers spoke to the Guardian under condition of anonymity. They claim the wristbands further stigmatise them in what is already a hostile environment. In a statement on Monday, Clearsprings Ready Homes said the sinister identification techniques would cease from January 25th and that they would find “alternative ways of managing the fair provision of support.”

Red doors

The red wristbands have sinister echoes of revelations last week of another secret apartheid policy operating on Britain’s streets. Home Office officials are said to have launched an investigation after allegations that asylum seekers in Middlesborough — one of England’s poorest towns — were being housed in properties with red front doors.

Branding refugees with the red door policy has been blamed for numerous attacks and abuse after refugees claimed they were targeted with dog excrement, eggs, stones, and had National Front symbols painted on their doors. The homes are owned by Jomast, a subcontractor of misery profiteers G4S, who denied that either company had a policy of painting the red doors, despite the fact that out of 66 of the red-door houses, 62 were home to asylum seekers of 22 nationalities.

In fact, the red doors were among the host of shortcomings documented back in 2013,  which highlighted the problems with serial offenders like G4S being tasked with a duty of care to Britain’s most vulnerable.

The shocking list of failed standards way back then included a lack of privacy for residents and staff walking into rooms unannounced. There was a noted void in the understanding of the needs of those from different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and languages. Hostel conditions in general were poor and there was no induction for residents into the local area. Infection in hostels was rife and there was no adequate complaints procedure. Unsurprisingly, inappropriate comments and gestures were made to residents by employees.

On the week we remember the Holocaust, it will take a lot more than repainting doors to solve the problems in the U.K.’s asylum-seeker housing system — particularly when those seeking refuge continue to be handed over to the private security companies complicit in human rights abuses throughout the world.


This article (Red Doors and Red Wristbands: Britain’s Secret Apartheid Systems) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Arenamontanus. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton joined Anti-Media as its first journalist abroad in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include human rights, conflict, the Middle East, Palestine, and Israel. Born and residing in the United Kingdom, she is also a photographer.

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1 Comment

  1. They made me wear one on an all inclusive holiday. But I had to pay for that. I feel for the free loads

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