WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 22 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Worries raised by Dorset Conservatives over plans to house asylum seekers on a barge

Worries raised by Dorset Conservatives over plans to house asylum seekers on a barge

The Home Office in its continued search for asylum seeker accommodation is seeking to ‘house more than 500 people on a giant barge in Dorset.’ This plan’s feasibility has been met with concerns from the area’s police commissioner and council leader, both Conservative party members.

Councillors have complained of Home Office failures in sufficiently responding to ‘dozens of detailed questions’ as to how the plan is to operate. The barge is expected to house more than double the number of individuals it was built to hold, 506 male asylum seekers compared to a capacity of 220.

The questions requested information about the plans to keep asylum seekers safe from attacks encountered at other sites, ‘the [barge’s] health and waste provisions’, and any background checks undertaken on those who will be housed. A demand for extra resources to cover local services was also made.

Pete Roper, Portland’s mayor, explained the situation stating that they ‘are completely in the dark.’ He focused on the need to have information on both the security checks asylum seekers will have been through and ‘security provisions’ which will be in place to protect the port given the potential for attacks from far-right groups.

A joint statement released by Dorset police and council echoed this. The police and crime commissioner, David Sidwick, explained he had lobbied Suella Braverman for extra funding to address security concerns. ‘I will continue to push the government to fully fund the necessary security requirements,’ he said. Dorset council’s leader, Spencer Flower stated that they ‘want to ensure robust arrangements are in place if this goes ahead.’

There is still the potential of a legal challenge from Dorset council, and Home Office officials were sent to the area yesterday to address concerns. A meeting with Dorset councillors was due to take place yesterday, whilst one with Portland councillors is due to occur this afternoon.

This story comes on the back of a disclosure by the Guardian of the government’s plans to use ‘more redundant cruise ships, ferries and barges to house asylum seekers in ports around the country’. The Home Office’s justification for the use of barges and ferries lies again in the savings to UK taxpayers, although it appears that hotels will continue to be used given the difficulties in finding ‘10,000 spaces in military camps, disused prisons and large vessels.’

The barge will be towed from Italy by an Italian-flagged tugboat and is expected to arrive this week for refitting before heading to Dorset in late June.