THE BASINGSTOKE branch of Women’s Equality Party (WE) is urging the government to ensure the safety of women travellers as a town hotel is being converted into a quarantine facility for people coming to the UK from red list countries.

The party has sent a letter to Basingstoke MP Maria Miller, asking for assurances that any hotel that becomes a quarantine location ensures its employees are briefed on safety issues.

Meanwhile, Mrs Miller has confirmed that Crowne Plaza Basingstoke will become a quarantine location for travellers arriving in the UK from red list countries.

She added the Basingstoke hotel has become part of the national network of hotels supporting the United Kingdom and Irish residents returning to the UK from countries where hotel quarantine is required to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Reacting to the letter from WE, Mrs Miller said the safety of all returning travellers, particularly female guest will be ensured.

She said: "There are stringent measures in place to safeguard the health of everyone involved and fully trained security guards and paramedics will be on site.

“Following incidents at other quarantine hotels I raised the importance of security staff training for the safety of all returning travellers, particularly female guests. I have been reassured this training is in place and security guards will be present 24 hours a day to ensure only those quarantining are on the hotel site.”

The Gazette revealed last week that Crowne Plaza Basingstoke, an IHG Hotel at Black Dam in Old Common Road, is set to be closed to the public and turned into a quarantine facility after the hospitality chain signed an exclusive contract with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Reacting to the news, WE Basingstoke tweeted: “Following sickening news that some guards in these have been sexually harassing lone women travellers, WE very much hope that Crowne Plaza staff have been given a full briefing on both ensuring guest safety & how to report to Department of Health and Social Care-managed Quarantine Service Complaints Team in event of any such harassment in Basingstoke.”

Recently, many women had come forward to share sexual harassments incidents they had to encounter from security staff at different quarantine locations.

This included Pentahotel in Reading, which was later shut down as the quarantine location after a Delta-variant Covid outbreak at the property.

WE Basingstoke branch leader Stacy Hart told the Gazette that the government has “utterly failed women in its response” so far.

"The news that some security guards in these hotels have been taking advantage of the opportunity to allegedly harass or threaten lone women travellers is hugely concerning.

“The government has utterly failed women in its response - from the DHSC failing to effectively respond to and uphold complaints, to women's safety not being factored in in the first place.

“The Women's Equality Party Basingstoke has written to MP Maria Miller asking for assurances that any hotel in Basingstoke that becomes a quarantine hotel ensures its staff are briefed on this issue, that security services utilised are fully trained on appropriate behaviour and that any complaints reported to the DHSC are dealt with swiftly and decisively."

Priya Brown, WE Basingstoke election candidate for Eastrop and Grove ward in May 2021 election, told the Gazette: "The government has a duty of care to safeguard all those passing through the hotel quarantine system, and every woman isolating in government-designated quarantine locations should feel safe.

“The experiences that some women have detailed shows just how common harassment and threats are - but also how insidious and damaging imbalances of power can be when security guards have disproportionate control over women's safety.

“The 'solution' proposed by the government to ensure lone women travellers are accompanied by two female guards - or two male guards if there are no women available - is preposterous when you consider how few female security guards are employed by G4S. The answer to threatening behaviour from men is not more men.

“If the Crowne Plaza in Basingstoke becomes a quarantine hotel, we will expect the hotel, all contracted security staff and the DHSC to take a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and ensure the concerns of women are listened to and upheld.”