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Volunteers entering army barracks housing 400 asylum seekers told to sign confidentiality agreements

Volunteers at an army barracks housing 400 asylum seekers are being asked to sign confidentiality agreements under the Official Secrets Act amid concerns over conditions.

Hundreds of men are being kept at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent.

Complaints over conditions at the site have reportedly prompted hunger strikes, unrest and even suicide attempts. 

It has emerged that volunteeers who provide clothing and counselling to the 400 men living on site are being handed a form by the private company running the barracks, to keep them from sharing details of the site 

Critics have said keeping 400 men at the old Napier Barracks in Folkestone is 'inappropriate,' as volunteers are now told not to share any information about the asylum seekers being kept there

Critics have said keeping 400 men at the old Napier Barracks in Folkestone is ‘inappropriate,’ as volunteers are now told not to share any information about the asylum seekers being kept there

According to The Guardian, the agreement refers to the asylum seekers being kept at the repurposed barracks as service users and states that no information about them can be shared, as it is subject to the Official Secrets Act.

Breaching the Official Secrets Act can lead to prison sentences of up to 14 years.

Bella Sankey, director at Detention Action, said: ‘Locking people up at an old army barracks is inappropriate enough, without trying to gag those who volunteer to provide basic essentials to those in need. 

‘We’ve heard reports of self-harm, suicide attempts, Covid outbreaks and cramped and unsanitary dorms, meaning more – not less – public information is needed about this seemingly reckless experiment.’

Sonia Lenegan, legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association said she thought the contat sounded like a cover-up, describing it as sinister.

Men living at the barracks say they have received no information on when they can leave, amid growing tension at the site.

They were reportedly told they would spend no longer than 30 days there, but some have been living there for up to two months, it has been claimed. 

There were scenes of protests at the barracks last Monday, as crowds shouted ‘we want freedom’. 

Men living at the barracks say they have received no information on when they can leave, amid growing tension at the site, which saw police called out last Monday

Men living at the barracks say they have received no information on when they can leave, amid growing tension at the site, which saw police called out last Monday

A Freedom of Information request to Secamb – the local ambulance service – revealed it was getting weekly call-outs to the site.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We have worked closely with our accommodation provider Clearsprings Ready Homes and stakeholders to ensure the Napier site is safe and secure. This includes an agreement with staff to provide asylum seekers with privacy and confidentiality as would be expected.’ 

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