Napier Barracks is Finally Empty of Asylum Seekers - Keep it That Way

Napier Barracks is Finally Empty of Asylum Seekers - Keep it That Way

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F Shemoon started this petition to home office

Dilapidated MoD site Napier Barracks has been used as contingency accommodation for asylum seekers since September 2020.

Conditions at the Barracks have been called unsafe, unsanitary and inappropriate. On Thursday 1st April, the last of the 400 men housed there were finally moved out.

The emptying of Napier followed months of high court rulings relocating individual residents, a damning independent inspection and scrutiny for an upcoming judicial review on use of the Barracks as initial accommodation. Months of campaigning by NGOs and protests from activist groups and the residents themselves. Months of misery for hundreds of men awaiting decisions on their asylum claims.

Yet the Home Office say they plan to bring in another cohort imminently. 

Napier Barracks should have never been used as accommodation for people seeking asylum.

Why?

1. The Barracks aren’t fit for habitation.

-        A 2014 report by CgMs Consulting said that converting Napier into housing was “unsuitable” since the site was “never intended for long-term use”.

-        A FOI request to the MoD asking for the record of the last inspection before the site was handed over to the Home Office revealed serious issues with the buildings such as “severe corrosion of steel supports” and “roof structure showing signs of deterioration.

-        The Crown Premises Fire Safety Inspectorate expressed serious concerns about fire safety at the barracks, which hadn’t been resolved.

-        An inspection by the immigration and prisons watchdog was carried out in February. In spite of hasty additional maintenance and cleaning after months of neglect in preparation for the inspection, it found that the environment was “impoverished, run-down and unsuitable for long term accommodation”. Some areas “were filthy”.

2. The ex-MoD site isn’t appropriate for people seeking asylum

-        The British Red Cross said the sites were inhumane accommodation for people fleeing war, persecution and violence and appealed to the government to cease use of military barracks as accommodation: “the majority of people seeking asylum have lived in adverse and insecure conditions, often for prolonged periods. Many people have been held against their will in prisons and other military buildings. Many have experienced abuse, violence and/or torture on these sites.”

-        The independent inspection of mid-February found that asylum seekers at high risk of self-harm were housed in decrepit isolation blocks, considered “unfit for human habitation”. Inspectors had serious safeguarding concerns.

-        The inspection also found that residents had little privacy or control over their own time.

3. The site cannot be COVID safe with large numbers and is therefore dangerous to the health of residents.

-        Shortly before use of the barracks was decided upon, Public Health England warned that social distancing wouldn't be possible if the Barracks were used as proposed. They recommended a maximum of six men per room, with rooms treated as “one bubble and kept together and away from others”. Despite this, the Home Office opened the barracks with men housed 28 to a one-room block (with two shared toilets and showers between that number) and allowed the COVID-positive to mix freely with other residents.

-        In January 2021, several residents tested positive for COVID-19. The virus quickly spread: by February, 197 residents had tested positive.

-         That month, A report by Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) stated that there were “too many people housed in each block to allow adequate social distancing and to prevent the risk of spread of infection”.

-        The independent inspection found that dormitory accommodation at Napier had not complied with COVID guidance and that a large-scale outbreak had been “virtually inevitable”

The outcome of a judicial review into the legality of the Home Office’s decision to use Napier Barracks is pending. It will assess whether:

-        The conditions at Napier risked breaching the European Convention of Human Rights to life, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, to liberty and security of person, and to a private and family life.

-        Residence at Napier amounted to unlawful detention and failed to satisfy the government’s responsibility to meet essential living needs under s.95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.

The Home Office are planning to subject hundreds more vulnerable men to this. They proceed on the basis they have public support. We must make it clear that  we, the public, do not condone this reprehensible treatment of our fellow humans.

Please sign and share. #BlockTheBarracks #KeepItShut #CloseNapierOnceAndForAll

 

 

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