Napier Barracks: ‘Fundamentally unsuitable’ asylum camp ‘must close with immediate effect’ MPs say

‘Fundamental problems remain’ at controverisal asylum camp which continues to house hundreds

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 08 April 2022 12:54 BST
<p>A report by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on immigration detention has called for the closure of Napier Barracks </p>

A report by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on immigration detention has called for the closure of Napier Barracks

A “fundamentally unsuitable” asylum centre should be closed with immediate effect, MPs have said.

The Home Office has failed to address problems at former military camp Napier Barracks, a new report claims.

The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on immigration detention has called for the closure of the camp, which was repurposed to hold hundreds of people seeking asylum in September 2020.

The High Court ruled in June 2021 that Napier Barracks failed to meet minimum standards for asylum accommodation.

Earlier that year, the immigration and prison watchdogs warned of “fundamental failures” at the site, condemning it as “filthy” and “decrepit”.

During a visit in February 2022, MPs from the APPG found that changes introduced by the Home Office after the ruling have failed to address the issues. They said little had changed at the site and said they remain “deeply concerned” for the individuals accommodated there.

The report states that the MPs are “firmly of the view that Napier and other sites like it are fundamentally unsuitable for use as asylum accommodation, and do not allow a person to engage effectively with their asylum claim”.

The site is believed to house more than 300 asylum seekers (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central and chair of the APPG, who took part in the visit, said it was “deeply concerning” to see how poor the conditions in the Napier Barracks were.

“Residents in the barracks are living in the most dreadful of circumstances, and this must end. Many of those living in the barracks have fled conflict and have suffered unimaginable trauma - they should be treated with dignity and respect, and allowed to rebuild their lives,” she added.

The Independent understands that there are currently 308 asylum seekers living in the camp, which the Home Office says can accommodate around 300 adults.

The report states that concerns over safeguarding vulnerable people on the site had not been addressed, with “little being done” to identify residents in need of support, such as victims of torture and trafficking.

The MPs found that the physical environment of the site had not improved, describing it as “run-down, isolated and bleak, with many buildings in an extremely poor state of repair”.

There remains a “near total lack of privacy and private spaces” in the camp, with residents continuing to be housed in dormitories of up to 12-14 people and having to share showers, toilets, and other facilities, they said.

There has been criticm of the conditions at the former barracks

The report also described “inadequate” access for residents to healthcare and legal advice, as well as difficulties asylum seekers face in engaging with their asylum claim at the site.

It calls on the government to ensure the barracks was “closed as asylum accommodation with immediate and permanent effect, and that people seeking asylum accommodated at Napier are moved directly to decent, safe housing in the community that allows them to live with dignity”.

A Home Office spokesperson said the use of Napier Barracks as contingency accommodation was “vital” in helping it to accommodate and support destitute asylum seekers.

“Significant works have been carried out to improve the conditions, management and oversight.  Napier is safe, warm, dry, and provides a choice of good hot meals as well as proper laundry, cleaning and multi-faith religious facilities,” they added.

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