We are deeply concerned by the findings of the inspection of Napier Barracks in Kent by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons.

The inspection found that the camps, especially Napier, were “impoverished, run-down and unsuitable for long-term accommodation.”

Scottish Refugee Council submitted evidence to the inspection in February 2021. You can read our submission here.

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council said: “This inspection confirms our deep concerns about the use of institutional accommodation in the asylum support system.

“People seeking safety in the UK need a safe, secure place to stay and from which to rebuild their lives. As this inspection makes even clearer, barrack accommodation simply cannot offer this. Evidence such as this shows us that institutional accommodation is not just detrimental to the health and wellbeing of individuals, but is extremely dangerous during a pandemic.

“People seeking protection in the UK are often fleeing armed conflict, and military style accommodation such as this is potentially traumatic.

“The UK must do better than this. We call on the Home Office to urgently end its use of institutional accommodation, and commit to housing people seeking protection in homes within communities.”

Barrack accommodation is unsafe and unsuitable at any time, but is especially dangerous during a pandemic. The inspection found that almost half of people staying at Napier had contracted COVID-19 in the early months of 2021.

The Home Office was warned by Public Health England that COVID-19 safety measures were not compatible with dormitory style accommodation in place at Napier barracks.

The inspection surveyed people living in Napier Barracks and in Penally camp in Wales. One third of those surveyed reported experiencing mental health problems, and one third of those surveyed at Napier said they had experienced suicidal thoughts.

Some people had been held in barrack accommodation for long periods of time, and the inspection found the Home Office had failed to recognise the impact of prolonged isolation in accommodation not designed for long-term residence.

The inspection’s full findings can be read here.

Laura Delaney
Author: Laura Delaney