The Home Office has been severely criticized for using army facilities to house asylum seekers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A joint report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons found that conditions at Napier Barracks in Folkestone (Kent) and Penally Camp in Wales were filthy and inimical to social distancing.
The report also found that asylum seekers’ mental health was adversely affected in so far as they did not know how long they would have to spend at the facilities.
Meanwhile, the former chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Bolt, went further by describing the military facilities as “utterly unacceptable” which constitute “serious failings on the part of the Home Office”.
There was a Covid-19 outbreak at Napier Barracks in January and February which affected more than 200 asylum seekers.
Underscoring the gravity of the situation, 21 members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration and Detention have written to Home Secretary, Priti Patel, expressing “serious concern” that asylum seekers are exposed to “very serious risk of harm”.
While Penally Camp was closed down last month, Napier Barracks is still fully operational and thus potentially placing asylum seekers’ lives at risk.
Repeated calls by MPs to shut down Napier Barracks have been ignored by Patel and immigration minister Chris Philp.