Asylum centre to be split after drug dealing revelations

Sandholm Asylum Centre is under pressure from illegal residents and criminals using the centre as a base, so Justice Ministry moves to separate failed asylum seekers from the rest

Revelations that Sandholm Asylum Centre north of Copenhagen is being used as a base for drug dealing operations by some residents has led to plans to split up the centre.

Sandholm is one of Denmark’s main asylum centres and houses about 600 asylum seekers. It is both a reception centre for asylum seekers new to Denmark, as well as a home for asylum seekers who have had their applications rejected and are being readied for repatriation.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), announced on Sunday that these two groups would be separated after reports indicated that many failed asylum seekers were selling drugs from and within the centre.

“We are splitting up the people who are currently residents in Sandholm,” Bødskov told TV2 News. “I hope that it will be enough, but we need to be aware that there are people who abuse our asylum system and we need to aggressively target them.”

Failed and criminal asylum seekers would be removed from Sandholm's general population, though more details about where they would be located and who would operate the facility have yet to be determined.

The move arrives after a lengthy investigation by TV2 News that started after police caught several drug dealers in Vesterbro this May who were failed asylum seekers living in Sandholm.

Following this revelation, TV2 News exposed widespread drug dealing at the centre – cannabis could be bought from the centre’s small shop – as well as the extent to which people had illegally taken up residence there.

For example, police action at the end of last week at Sandholm led to the arrest of a 20-year-old rejected asylum seeker from Algeria who was caught in possession of 5.1 grams of cocaine, as well as the discovery of 25 grams of amphetamines.

Police also arrested a 47-year-old Polish man who was wanted by the immigration authorities and that had illegally taken up residence in the centre without the knowledge of the Red Cross, which operates Sandholm.

TV2 also reported that between 30 and 40 individuals illegally enter the centre every day and that many of them criminals – a fact known to the Red Cross due to reports by residents concerned by the presence of these individuals.

The Red Cross has also faced criticism for its handling of crime at the centre. While representatives repeatedly stated that all crime at the centre was reported to the police, documents obtained by TV2 News suggested that only around a third of all cases are reported.

The police and the Red Cross have now agreed a new plan for co-operation that will include increased patrols by North Zealand Police inside the centre.

The Red Cross will also have to increase its control of both those who enter the asylum centre and those who are found within it. Contributing to this will be increased video surveillance of the perimeter and shared outdoor areas.