Community questions around Napier barracks use

Community Engagement Meetings

Following a decision by the Home Office to use Napier barracks in Folkestone for asylum seeker accommodation, the council has organised online community meetings.

You can view the meeting held on 27 May 2021 below (please note the meeting begins approximately 21 second after the start of the recording).

The meeting held in September 2020 can be viewed below.

 
The following are the questions raised at the May 2021 meeting and the answers provided by the agencies involved in the Home Office's use of Napier barracks. Further questions can be raised with the Home Office via complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk  and if you would like to offer any help or support you can contact Migrant Help folkestone@migranthelpuk.org

Use of Napier

Can you confirm the exact date of closure as it will be a year in September? It was confirmed in previous meetings that this was only for temporary use for up to a year.

The Home Office as an agreement with the Ministry of Defence which enables the site to be used until September 2021 - this is reflected in the Home Office's emergency planning.

Any use beyond this date would require discussions with the Ministry of Defence and the local planning authority. No discussions of this nature have begun.

After all the issues (ie, constant police and fire services attendance, and various protests), why are you once again filling the site with large occupancy?

All relevant risks assessments have been carried out, improvements made on site (including how service users are liaised with) and this has helped with calming the site and ensuring safety.

The Home Office has been awaiting the outcome of the Judicial Review and protests and events are being managed by the relevant agencies. The Home Office continues to work with agencies on issues of concern.

Every day, reports show hundreds more people arriving illegally across the Channel. What immediate action is being taken to ensure protection of the border?

This is not directly relevant to the use of Napier Barracks and contact can be made directly with the Home Office on the asylum-seeking process.

Why has the site been allowed to be used again after Penally (in Wales) has been shut and is evidently not fit for purpose? How will it be improved?

The sites at Penally and Napier are different in a number of respects and so are not completely comparable.

Emergency planning regulations are different in England and Wales, the emergency planning period for Penally was expiring and ministers decided not to apply to extend it, therefore Penally closed in March.  The position for Napier is different and emergency planning lasts until September.   

Napier Barracks has undergone improvements, including changes to cleansing regimes, the way service users are engaged with, the maximum stay being formally agreed and activities on site improved.

Arrangements on site have been improved including better privacy arrangements for interviews, provision of dental wagons and new pathways for access to mental health support. There is more engagement with voluntary sector groups for activities and better grouping of service users to aid infection control.

Where else could refugees be housed? Is Milbank a more a suitable facility?

There is an ongoing programme by the Home Office to move service users from initial accommodation to accommodation elsewhere. There is pressure on the system to house families, children and other vulnerable people. Napier enables young, fit, healthy men to be moved from accommodation that is needed for these groups but as an interim measure while other accommodation is sought.

Is it right to use Napier Barracks to house people that have arrived on our shores illegally? Surely the said people should be immediately deported?

Until an asylum application has been determined, it is not possible to do this.

What about a vote of the residents of Folkestone and Hythe district as to their views? You could have a ballot of gain entry, stop entry, deport.

This is not the way the Home Office operates and once service users are moved from Napier Barracks, they are dispersed outside the district.

Is it right to allow right-wing activists to have their say and damage property, and to label anyone against these service users as far left?

All activity such as this is monitored and any criminal offences taking place dealt with by the police. There is a right to peaceful protest (within COVID guidelines).

Site Security/impact on local services

Migrants meet daily at the La Quense park to drink alcohol. When will they be prevented from leaving empty bottles, discarded food and broken glass? Given this behaviour is ongoing, unacceptable and detrimental to the community, will Folkestone & Hythe District Council impose a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) at La Quense?

What is being done to manage the litter? Residents hang out on the field opposite and leave broken glass, litter etc. A temporary bin has been removed.

Answer from Folkestone & Hythe District Council: There is currently a PSPO covering the Cheriton area, and this includes the parks and public spaces in the vicinity of the barracks.

We do want our parks and public spaces to be kept safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.

Through the district's Community Safety Partnership, our officers work with colleagues from local policing, and other partner organisations, to ensure that crime and anti-social behaviour is addressed whenever possible.

When anti-social behaviour is witnessed by officers, action is taken and this can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) being served. It is very helpful for members of the public to report anti-social behaviour as this helps to highlight the types of issues occurring, identify areas for our officers to patrol and provides evidence to support action.

The council works hard to ensure that litter is cleared and all park users are urged to be responsible and place litter in bins provided or  take it home to dispose of.

Community Safety

Why is this event* allowed to happen?

The organisers were contacted to ask to engage with agencies. They did not engage and therefore it was not possible to advise them about all the usual arrangements that would have been put in place through a formal event management process.

There is a right to peaceful protest and any criminality or anti-social behaviour would be dealt with accordingly. Police officers attended this event and no enforcement action was necessary.

How and when will the council be managing the clean of this event*?

The area was cleansed after the event.

*The event referred to was called Close the Camps.

Community safety in general

Answer from Kent Police: As a force we have remained committed to visible, local policing and many of you will have seen officers out and about in the community, in and around Cheriton and Folkestone as part of our dedication to keep everyone safe during lockdown.

We have supported the site management team where necessary. We have engaged with service users at the site, and importantly, we have listened to all.

We always want to listen carefully to the community, residents, and hear anyone's concerns; our role in building positive relationships remains and we believe everyone should be treated with fairness, respect and dignity.

We absolutely respect that people have differing views but be assured that we will and have taken action against anyone committing crime in the area. Having said that, there has been little change to the local crime rate and we hope the community feels reassured as a result of our work.

Community safety is not just about the police: we work closely with colleagues from the different agencies that comprise the Community Safety Partnership and with other organisations, such as charities. But very importantly, it's also about the role of the wider community to work together collectively to reduce crime and keep everyone safe, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

We will respond proportionately to peaceful protest whilst encouraging compliance with the government guidance and regulations in relation to COVID-19. We do ask those planning or attending a protest to give careful consideration to social distancing so they can protect themselves and other people, and limit the spread of coronavirus and save lives. We urge the organisers of such events to speak to us beforehand so we can establish how it might have an impact on the wider community and in turn, provide advice if needed.

From 17 May, the government eased restrictions on protests and the numbers attending them, which meant they are allowed to proceed. However organisers of planned gatherings still have a responsibility for ensuring the safety of those attending, including compliance with the current rules designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Failure to do so can result in fines.

On this occasion officers did attend the event, however no enforcement action was required.

What lessons have been learnt from the COVID outbreak at Napier leading to a surge locally?

The local rates of COVID cannot be attributed to Napier Barracks, however the outbreak that did occur was quickly brought under control following a host of measures including:

  • removal of those testing negative to prevent further spread

  • isolating service users as required by COVID legislation

  • re-assessing capacity on site

  • new cleansing regimes

  • regular testing of staff, service-users and visitors

  • new outbreak plans and risk assessments in place.

The arrangements in place currently allow for household bubbles to remain together with reduced numbers in each accommodation block and some empty blocks to enable isolation for anyone showing symptoms of COVID /testing positive.

Why can the Home Office not start to locate more rural locations for asylum seekers to be housed away from large residential areas?

There is a programme of transferring asylum seekers to accommodation wherever it becomes available and is suitable.

If a similar army camp in Wales was deemed unsuitable and closed, why has Napier not been closed?

The sites at Penally and Napier are different in a number of respects and so are not completely comparable.

Emergency planning regulations are different in England and Wales, the emergency planning period for Penally was expiring and Ministers decided not to apply to extend it, therefore Penally closed in March.  The position for Napier is different and emergency planning lasts until September.   

Improvements at Napier include changes to cleansing regimes, the way service users are engaged with, the maximum stay  formally agreed and improvements in the activities offered. There are better privacy arrangements for interviews, the provision of dental wagons and new pathways for access to mental health support. More engagement with voluntary sector groups for activities is taking place and better grouping of service users to aid infection control.

Given that migrants are supposed to be provided only with essential needs, why can they regularly be seen buying beer, wine and spirits at Tesco?

There is a small amount of money that service users are allowed to have per week and there is no restriction as to what they can buy as they are over the legal age.

Health and Well Being of Service users

How can we ensure the asylum seekers are welcomed into the community? Will the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) etc be involved in supporting them?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) now meet monthly with partner agencies. KRAN is on the group and offers of support and help both on site and off are coordinated through Migrant Help.

There is a lot of tension in the community and a lot of racism, what work is going to take place to redress this, to ensure refugees are safe & welcome?

Concerns are picked up and addressed appropriately. Activities are coordinated on site to keep service users occupied and engaged.

What think tanks and liaison has taken place in the community to educate local people on the needs and trauma of refugees and how beneficial they are?

Presentations have been given to local schools and have been received well as they have aided understanding. Community engagement events and other forms of engagement eg answering letters / emails etc have provided information. Links to websites have also been provided.

What can we do to support and welcome refugees, can schools get involved?

There is direct liaison with Migrant Help to ensure the right kind of support is being provided to the men at the camp email address above.

Can we integrate refugees more into the community so they aren't imprisoned like before?

Work is ongoing with a whole host of support at the camp eg. language lessons, IT lessons etc so this will help with integration into the community.

What, if any, mental health support is being given to the residents of Napier Barracks to help them come to terms with the trauma they have experienced?

New mental health pathways have been secured to enable service users to seek the support they need. There are regular check-ins to see how all service users are feeling and the on-site nurse makes the necessary referrals. Anyone with significant mental health issues / post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and where this was not declared at medical screening prior to arrival on the camp or the issues manifest themselves after arrival, are reassessed and removed from camp so as not to exacerbate their mental health issue further.

What enrichment programmes are being used to support the well-being of residents whilst also creating community ties for the residents?

A timetable of activities including yoga, art, sports, language classes, IT classes etc is available and continues to grow as offers of support come in. Tables and chairs for outside recreation have also been installed.

Will there be any opportunities for residents to meet the asylum seekers in a friendly setting?

Several groups are now coming into Napier offering activities including a conversation club.  Some of these are run by members of the local community. Migrant Help would also welcome further involvement from local residents as part of the scheduled activities.

Answer from Migrant Help: At Migrant Help we know how important it is for the wellbeing of our clients to be able to interact with and integrate into their communities. This is a bit more difficult when it comes to shorter term accommodation, such as Napier and of course, in the past year, the COVID-related restrictions have made this more difficult. In general, those accommodated at Napier are free to come and go as they wish and are therefore able to take part in community activities.

It has also been shown that in areas where people interact with refugees/asylum seekers, much lower levels of racist or negative views on immigration are recorded.

We know there are many organisations/groups in the area who are keen to engage with and support the asylum seekers in Napier and we are very grateful for their help.

Migrant Help has co-funded the roles of Community Support Workers, so that we have a presence on site and are be able to support those accommodated there directly. They also helped coordinate the initial offers of help. We had some amazing donations come through, from running kits and trainers to suitcases that the clients can use when being moved into dispersal accommodation (rather than having to put their belongings into bin bags).

We are now changing the roles into adviser roles. These roles will be able to access our systems and therefore assist the clients in a more direct way.

We have created a list of mental health organisations that offer support in other languages, to enable as many asylum seekers as possible to access the support they need. We have also created information materials, such as to help asylum seekers to contact local solicitors etc.

Our helpline is available 24/7 and is free to call - 0808 8010 503.

Safety of residents

How will it be ensured that the residents of Napier are kept safe from right wing extremist protests and attacks?

There is 24/7 security, perimeter fencing and CCTV at the site. Intelligence around protests is shared and contingency plans around patrols and any policing requirements addressed. Service users are encouraged not to directly engage.

What is being done to actively ensure Napier Barracks is fit for habitation and protected from anti-refugee protestors?

As described above safety and security is constantly being addressed and improvements have been made to the camp to improve conditions.

My interview conducted in the barrack's room where it clearly says "asbestos exposure". Who is responsible for if someone contracted fatal asbestosis?

The use of Napier Barracks is a Home Office initiative. Key partners contribute to risk assessments and health and safety concerns on site and the Kent Fire and Rescue Service also have a regular presence on site to address any safety issues.

In the barracks I see malnourished PTSD living creatures continue living in the absence of nutritious food within barracks. Why it is like that?

Three meals a day are served. The menus are changed and catering accommodates all dietary requirements and improves on the variety previously offered. There is access to snacks and hot and cold drinks whenever service users require them.

People coming into the UK to get out of miserable conditions they were living with, just to feel like a human again. Is this jail suitable for them?

As an ex service personnel who has stayed in Napier, this site is not suitable for long stay, it is not safe and suitable for housing why use it?

The camp has been improved over time and the length of stay is now a maximum of 60-90 days. Some service users leave earlier than this and all leave as soon as alternative accommodation can be found.

Update 18.02.21 - A letter has been delivered to residents surrounding Napier Barracks sent by the Home Office and co-signed by the MP and the Leader of the Folkestone & Hythe District Council. We think it is important that the Home Office explains to residents about the ongoing developments at the site they live near. The Home Office took the decision to house asylum seekers in Napier Barracks back in September 2020. We have since highlighted concerns about the lack of consultation, lack of communication, the time claims are taking to process and we question the suitability of the barracks for this purpose.

Update 24.01.21  - The Home Office is responsible for Napier Barracks and in line with advice from Public Health England, the Home Office is temporarily moving a number of asylum seekers out from the Napier accommodation facility into self-isolation facilities, in order to allow others at Napier to self-isolate more easily. FHDC welcomes this decision as it means greater social distancing is possible in the barracks - reducing the potential spread of Covid. Approximately 100 users will be transferred over the coming days - some to hotels outside of the district and a small number to one hotel in our district. The users who are being transferred have had a negative PCR test. Following the transfer they will self-isolate in a hotel for 10 days. There is no additional risk to local residents.

We are aware that residents and businesses have questions around the decision by the Home Office to use Napier Barracks, Folkestone to house asylum seekers. We organised a community engagement meeting that brought together key partners to answer common questions that had been submitted by the public. Due to the volume of questions received and wide scope that they covered it wasn't possible to answer all of these in a single session. As a result we've sought further answers from partners to the frequently asked questions that we have received which can be found below. 

Although we were not involved in the decision to use Napier Barracks in this way we believe it is important to address local queries and this is why we are hosting these questions on our site despite them being the remits of multiple different partners. 

This list is not exhaustive and will be added to shortly as we receive additional answers from partners.

Many questions were answered during the community engagement meeting we organised and we would urge you to watch this.  

The Home Office have produced a factsheet around the use of Ministry of Defence sites which also contains useful information.

Contingency Asylum Accommodation Ministry of Defence Sites Factsheet (PDF, 352KB)

If you have any further queries not answered on this page or wish to raise a complaint with the Home Office please email complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk 

If you wish to offer support to the asylum seekers housed in Napier Barracks please contact Migrant Help by emailing folkestone@migranthelpuk.org

COVID-19 

How will the "rule of 6" will be followed on site and also when out from the barracks and around the local area?

The site management is responsible for determining how legislation and guidance is complied with on the site. It would not generally be the role of the health protection team to advise organisations on how they comply with legislation and guidance as they know their settings best. Support has been provided to ensure a suitable risk assessment has been conducted and COVID Secure arrangements are in place.

The rule of six applies to people congregating outside the home. Site management advise residents about COVID behaviour when outside the site, including rule of six, wearing face masks when entering shops, regular hand washing, etc.

Will the asylum seekers have been Covid-19 tested, and will they have quarantined?

The individuals who are being transferred to Napier Barracks will have been in the UK for a minimum of two weeks and have completed the necessary period of self-isolation before their transfer.

Only individuals who are fit, healthy and able with no known complex health and care needs and no symptoms of COVID-19 will be transferred to Napier Barracks.

If Covid-19 breaks out in the camp how will these people be isolated and will the camp be "Locked down"? or will they be allowed to roam the streets? 

This may depend on assessment of the situation and contact tracing for those who have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID positive result. For example, if social contact and duration of contact was limited to those in the same sleeping quarter, it may suffice just to isolate those in the same barrack and not the entire facility. If an outbreak were to occur, the local Health Protection Team would advise on what to do as they do for other settings (e.g. schools, care homes).

How is the council going to ensure that Covid-19 infection rates do not increase in Folkestone because of the presence of the immigrant's camp?

The responsibility for monitoring Covid infection rates rest with Public Health England and Kent County Council Public Health teams, they will alert all relevant authorities should there be a rise in Folkestone. Temperature checks are taking place on site and for anyone entering the barracks including every resident upon returning from leaving the site.

They are in a camp with no social distancing and are in larger groups than 6. So this is surely a hot spot for a virus outbreak?  They have already been seen in Tesco's not far from the camp so could be spreading the virus it in our community.

Measures have been put in place to ensure that the facility is COVID-safe and limit risks of outbreak. There is social distancing in place on site e.g spacing between beds, partitions etc.

Why are these asylum seekers allowed straight out into the surrounding areas to wander freely? The government clearly states anyone returning from France has to isolate for two weeks. Why did they arrive Monday and be sent straight off to the shops to buy alcohol from Tesco's?

As above these are not newly arrived asylum seekers, they will have been in the UK for over 14 days and already completed the necessary period of self-isolation.  The asylum seekers are not being detained and are free to come and go, but their basic needs are being provided for and they are expected to be on site overnight.

Management of asylum seekers in the community

Will migrants be able to leave the camp, and come and go as they please?

Yes, but there is guidance in place around signing and out and returning to the camp by 10pm. If anyone has not returned a welfare call is made to them after 10pm. They are expected to stay overnight at the barracks.

What is the maximum capacity of the camp?

A maximum of 431 asylum seekers are to be placed in the barracks over a period of time. However, this is initial accommodation and they will be dispersed to other accommodation anywhere in the country.

Are their children going to be integrated into our local schools?

There are no children on site.

How will their 9pm curfew be enforced? Is it a permanent curfew, or will it be relaxed?

There is no curfew in place, but all are expected to be on site overnight. 

Will migrants be 'counted back in' at night?

Yes, there is a signing in and signing out register and if anyone is not back on site by 10pm they are contacted, a welfare check conducted and they are reminded of the expectation that they are on site overnight.

If the immigrants or migrant hasn't or doesn't return back to the Barracks, how would you notify the community of this to make them aware and keep them up to date?

There is no need to do this as the management for the site will take the necessary steps to ensure they return. If any one goes missing then a missing persons process is initiated.

What hours can migrants roam for?

The asylum seekers are not detained and therefore can leave the site and as explained above are advised to return by 10pm. All meals and sundries are provided on site reducing the need to leave as well as indoor and outdoor activities to occupy residents.

Will they be permanently housed in Folkestone/surrounding areas?

Anywhere in the UK where suitable housing becomes available. 

Is it just young males being housed at the camp?

Single adult males of varying ages.

Why have they decided to house 400 single men in this particular community? Why not a mix of men, women, children and families?

Because the accommodation is not suitable for women and children.

Will migrants receive protection from far right activists?

Any right wing extremist activities will be dealt with by the relevant authorities.

What is stopping migrants from fleeing the area?

The asylum seekers are not detained, there is a daily register and they are expected to stay overnight at the accommodation.

What will be done to prevent the formation of gangs of young men amongst the migrants?

There is induction on expected behaviour and this is provided in different languages. They will also be given details on how to stay safe.

Are the asylum seekers tagged like a criminal is tagged in case they break their curfew and if a crime is committed we can pin point exactly where they are and if they try and flee into the surrounding areas to escape being sent?

These are asylum seekers, and not persons being detained. They are therefore free to come and go but are expected to be on site overnight. There is a protocol in place with the police that triggers a missing person investigation should a person go missing. Any crime will be investigated in the normal way, as it would be for any other member of society.

This is an initial accommodation style provision and onward temporary housing is being sought not necessarily in this area. The residents can be moved on at any time whilst awaiting outcome of their asylum application.

Wellbeing of asylum seekers

Will there be any opportunities to volunteer or offer support to the asylum seekers? How do we go about doing this? 

Yes all offers of support will be checked by migrant help for suitability, contact will be made on the result of that check. All offers of support need to go through:

Migrant Help

What help and support will be given in terms of clothing, food, education, health, form filling, discovering the local area?

This work is contracted by the Home Office to Migrant Help to carry out.

Is there anything tangible people in the community can do to help? Such as making donations or writing to people/getting on zoom calls to help their English and help them integrate?

Yes, some of this is already being provided. Please email offers of help to Migrant Help

Will they be given everything they need or is there a need for local churches to support them in any way?

The asylum seekers are provided with three meals a day, and sundries such as toiletries etc are available on site however any offers can be made by contacting Migrant Help.

What is being put in place to protect the mental wellbeing of the people who are seeking asylum, particularly children? 

Individuals coming to Napier Barracks will only be single, adult males. Their physical and mental health and general wellbeing have been considered and measures have been put in place to support them through a combination of NHS care provision, charitable and spiritual support. There are no children on the site, migrant help are able to intervene and sign post to support services as can partner agencies if notified and there is a nurse on site as well as 6 housing officers provided by the Home Office.

How are you dealing with any prejudiced or threatening messages you receive regarding asylum seekers? 

This is dealt with in the normal manner by reporting to the relevant agencies. There is security on site and any intelligence received is addressed by those agencies including the Police and Home office as appropriate.

What are you doing to challenge the anti-asylum seeker rhetoric in Folkestone?

This is being addressed by relevant agencies any hate crimes committed are investigated. Clear advice and guidance was given at the community engagement meeting we organised. 

Is any organisation coordinating volunteer effort?

Yes Migrant help: folkestone@migranthelpuk.org

What trauma support will the families get if escaping war torn countries?

There will not be any families coming to Napier. Each individual coming to Napier should have already been registered with a GP and have been a offered an enhanced health checks, which would include considerations to their mental health and wellbeing. Considerations are being given to provide specific mental health care support to complement the support offer that charitable organisations and faith leaders can make.

There is welfare support on site, however the residents have been medically screened and as much as possible the Home Office are not placing anyone with complex needs to reduce burden on local services.

Community Safety

Can the street lamps at the camp end of Royal Military Avenue be reinstated, to ensure residents safety and security?

This is Kent County Council highways responsibility and we have contacted them with this request. 

We run a local Children's Football Club which operates most of our training sessions and all of our home games over at The La Quense Playing Fields opposite. This has caused the Club a massive risk assessment on top of our ongoing struggles with Covid-19.  We have vulnerable children who participate in our Club activities, some of whom are in care or registered disabled. Our worry is these migrants are free to roam about the area whenever they choose and everybody who comes along to our Club activities is screened beforehand for Covid-19. What are we supposed to do if these individuals enter the field whilst we are there training or on game days?

The managers on site will be made aware of this, if there is any alarm or harassment this needs to be reported in the usual way.

How many security officers will be on site night and day and what is their role?

11 security officers are employed in total and all staffing arrangements are kept under review. 

Home Office decision

Why was there no consultation?

The Home Office has needed to act quickly to create additional capacity to continue to meet its statutory obligations to support and accommodate destitute asylum seekers. The urgent nature of the situation to ensure that the Home Office meant the Home Office was obliged to work at pace and so did not have the opportunity for the level of engagement that it would normally wish to undertake.

Why was only one days' notice given?

The District Council was notified on Thursday 10th September 2020 and the MOD handed over the site on Monday 14th September 2020. The first arrivals were received on Monday 21st September 2020.

Will it be fully funded by Central Government as one would hope and expect, or as I suspect and fear, be once again surreptitiously loaded onto our local Council tax bills in 12 months' time, like I believe we do with Operation Stack?

The use of this site is entirely funded by the Home Office and therefore not linked to Council Tax levels.  The Council also makes no financial contribution to Operation Stack. 

Will council tax charges increase to contribute to the financial support of the migrants?

This is a Home Office initiative and therefore not linked to Council Tax for the district.  Funding is available from Central Government to the health sector if needed but rest of the impacts are absorbed within existing work or passed to the Home Office to deal with.  

I walked past the barracks in mid-March of this year during initial "lockdown", and saw piles of wrapped mattresses and other equipment. I assumed these were perhaps for the return of soldiers being drafted in to help with COVID-19 concerns.  Was the plan therefore already in place some 6 months ago to house the migrants and if this is the case, why has there been no consultation during these preceding 6 months? 

This is unconnected to its current use. This may have been related to the use of the accommodation at Napier by 1RGR to quarantine Gurkhas who had COVID symptoms. The Gurkha Major had reported this was what they were doing.

The premises

 Will they definitely only be based there for a year?

The Ministry of Defence has given the Home Office permission to use the site for 12 months, but the use of this facility will be temporary, and the Home Office will discontinue use as soon as it is able.

How long is it intended for the Barracks to be used as an assessment and dispersal unit?

The Ministry of Defence has given the Home Office permission to use the site for 12 months, but the use of this facility will be temporary, and the Home Office will discontinue use as soon as it is able.

Is the accommodation up to scratch (looks a bit decrepit from the outside!)

Clear springs Ready Homes ltd have been contracted by the Home Office to ensure the facility is habitable.

How many migrants are going to be housed in this facility?

The Ministry of Defence were working to a maximum capacity of 431 in line with social distancing guidelines, but Home Office use is not likely to exceed 400 due to Covid arrangements.

How many illegal migrants are at Napier Barracks at the moment?

There are 145 asylum seekers on site as at 30.09.20

Are all the needs of the 'guests' met within the site i.e food? Essential supplies? Medical? Dental?

Yes, three meals day and toiletries etc provided, nurse on site and recreational activities indoors and outdoors are provided.

Who authorised the use?

The Home Office.

If the barracks is no longer required why was the land not used to build much needed housing stock?

The barracks are being used on a temporary basis for up to 12 months after which they will be handed back to the MOD. It will be used to build housing - just not yet.

Napier Barracks is allocated as Plot G in the Shorncliffe Garrison development, marked for 155 homes including 36 affordable housing units and with Reserved Matters approved as application Y19/0318/FH last week.  How will the plans for this site be affected by the Home Office decision to use Napier Barracks, and will this consequently affect the Council's ability to meet their housebuilding target?  Does this mean that the Core Strategy is no longer sound?

We don't believe that this decision will have an impact on our housing land supply.  This is a temporary measure, and we understand from the developers that the Napier Barracks element of the Shorncliffe Garrison development is scheduled to come forward in Phase 4 of the Masterplan, from 2026 to 2031.

What steps have been taken to ensure sufficient fire services cover at Napier Barracks to prevent another tragedy here?

KFRS are linked into the site and working with partners eg on evacuation plans

Would it not be helpful, on many levels, to produce a 'fact-checked' document stating the correct legal position of those entering the UK and seeking asylum and our responsibilities as a country against these.  I believe that this would be helpful in challenging the often misguided and untrue comments on social media that especially recently sometimes tip over into racism and inciting racial hatred. I feel that this would help encourage community cohesion and right understanding of this situation. Perhaps a document produced by multiple partners in unison would be helpful so that a united approach could be held.

This has been requested from the Home Office.

Contingency Asylum Accommodation Ministry of Defence Sites Factsheet (PDF, 352KB)

The asylum process

 Who covers the cost of housing the asylum seekers?

The Home Office.

How can you determine who are genuine refugees?

Through the Home Office Asylum application process and full assessments of circumstances.

How are partners working together to address extremist views?

The two supportive websites for this are https://educateagainsthate.com/ and https://www.ltai.info/

As detailed above this list is not exhaustive and will be added to shortly as we receive additional answers from partners.