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Community questions around Napier Barracks use

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.

Icon for pdf Contingency Asylum Accommodation Ministry of Defence Sites Factsheet [351.65KB]

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 handwashing, 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:

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.

Icon for pdf Contingency Asylum Accommodation Ministry of Defence Sites Factsheet [351.65KB]

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.

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