DARLINGTON will be allocated as a ‘dispersal area’ for asylum seekers under a new agreement with G4S.

Contracted to the Home Office, G4S works to house refugees seeking asylum, providing accommodation, transportation and subsistence services until claims are processed.

The organisation has secured four properties in the town and will let them to those seeking shelter in the UK.

Those moving into the houses – which are owned by private landlords – will receive a full induction and orientation to introduce them to the local area and the services available.

New arrivals will be encouraged to take up English lessons and will receive support from the voluntary sector and other authorities.

G4S’s ‘operational delivery plan’ for Darlington says properties “will be subject to a consultation process with the local authority allowing for impact assessments in relation to integration, education, health and other social cohesion concerns.”

Accommodation is expected to be given to a mix of families and single people, with all properties required to meet decent homes standards.

Juliet Halstead, head of housing for G4S Immigration & Borders, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with Darlington and have committed to deliver the same welfare and property maintenance support that we have done in neighbouring towns such as Middlesbrough, Stockton and Sunderland over many years.”

Pete Widlinski, from Teesside charity Justice First, said the agreement would help to ensure responsibility for asylum seekers was balanced throughout the region.

He urged people to think positively about the benefits asylum seekers can bring to the community, adding: “We’re not talking about mass migration.

“The majority of people will be fleeing from serious persecution and this is nothing to be afraid of.

“Those who come here want to work and it is an advantage to the community to have people from different backgrounds and cultures.

“Many are highly skilled, motivated and resilient people who want to contribute to the community.”

A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council said G4S had contacted the authority, adding: "G4S is a contractor, appointed by the Home Office, to operate their national dispersal programme.

"They are obliged to consult with local authorities and police in implementing the contract."

G4S hit the headlines earlier this year when asylum seekers in Middlesbrough claimed they were being housed only in homes with red doors.

In January, the company said there was “categorically no policy to house asylum seekers behind red doors” and said it was grotesque to equate subcontractor Jomast’s use of red paint on many properties with discrimination.