Women in coronavirus quarantine hotels to get female guards after harassment claims

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Women staying in UK quarantine hotels will be given female guards when possible, the BBC reported, following allegations of sexual harassment.

The broadcaster said it had spoken to 16 women who reported harassment by male guards, with some saying their claims had been ignored or disbelieved.

The complaints include women reporting a male guard miming sex in a lift, while another asked for a hug.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will now offer female guards for lone women in quarantine hotels or, if not possible, they will be escorted by two male guards.

The DHSC said all guards would be given training on dealing with vulnerable guests “with more focused attention on the needs of lone female guests”.

The DHSC also announced a dedicated complaints team would deal with issues relating to quarantine hotels.

It said: “We are doing our upmost to ensure every person in managed quarantine gets the support they need and we’re urgently working to investigate complaints of this nature.”

All of the women who spoke to the BBC said they saw very few female guards in quarantine hotels.

A spokesman for security group G4S said: “The proportion of women to men in security officer roles at quarantine hotels is typical of the UK security industry and we are working to attract more women to the role.”

The allegations reported to the BBC include one woman who said she received Facebook messages from a guard who knocked on her door after writing, “This evening I’ll come,” and another who said she had been wolf-whistled by G4S guards as she walked past a quarantine hotel.

The DHSC said: “Sexual harassment and abuse are abhorrent – and all allegations of this are taken extremely seriously… We will not hesitate to take immediate action to suspend staff where appropriate and report to the police if necessary.”

G4S said it had a “zero-tolerance approach” to staff who failed to treat people with respect, adding: “To provide additional assurance we have enhanced training, supervision and operational and safeguarding procedures. We have also established an oversight body comprising of women in senior executive roles.”

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