On Friday 24th June, the courts upheld a legal challenge against the extended use of Napier barracks as asylum accommodation. We at JRS UK welcome this excellent news, and as we wait for the judge’s order about what should happen next, we renew our calls for the asylum camp at Napier to close for good and for everyone seeking asylum to be provided with safe and dignified accommodation within the community.
Naomi Blackwell, JRS UK Detention Outreach Manager said:
“We’re delighted with this judgement: it’s clear Napier should never have been opened as asylum accommodation, and should be immediately closed; the resources would be much better utilised clearing the huge backlog of asylum applications built up under this government, allowing people needing sanctuary to rebuild their lives and fully participate in our society.”
The challenge focuses on the planning permission with which Napier’s tenure as asylum accommodation was extended. Having been opened under emergency legislation in September 2020, Napier was originally due to close in September 2021. However, in August 2021 the government announced that Napier would remain open until September 2025, and extended Napier’s tenure using emergency planning powers which were wholly unjustified: as we said at the time, the government had had ample time to use normal planning routes, which would have involved much needed scrutiny, and engagement with the local community and local service providers. In her judgement, Justice Lieven holds that the Secretary of State had not considered the “longer-term” impacts of the site. She also expresses concern about the “segregated” nature of this accommodation, and its likely impact on community relations.
This outcome of a challenge, brought by a member of Folkestone’s local community, is a significant victory for justice in a context where the government increasingly seems to think it can act with impunity. It is high time that the government abandons its plan to ghettoise people seeking sanctuary here. This dehumanising and divisive approach to asylum accommodation is no good for anybody.