Campaigners have today questioned the legality of force used by police in a video showing an asylum seeker being dragged back inside a former Army
Campaigners have today questioned the legality of force used by police in a video showing an asylum seeker being dragged back inside a former Army barracks in Kent following an apparent Covid breach.
The man, believed to be a resident of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, is seen being lifted by his arms and legs and forcibly moved back through the gates in the clip.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner has claimed the footage was ‘very troubling’, adding that he was unsure about the legal basis for the use of force.
But police say ‘reasonable force’ was used to ‘return him safely back inside’ because they claim he had been directed to self-isolate amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The barracks have been used by the Government to house 400 asylum seekers since September. Residents are not detained at the site and are free to leave, but must obey lockdown restrictions.
The man, believed to be a resident of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, is seen being lifted by his arms and legs and forcibly moved back through the gates in the clip. Pictured: The incident
Around 120 people living within the accommodation – which primarily houses migrants who have crossed the Channel in dinghies from France – have recently tested positive for Covid.
The Home Office, which has loaned the site from the Ministry of Defence, insists the barracks is ‘safe and secure’ despite the outbreak.
It comes as police arrested another nine people on Sunday after Napier Barracks was allegedly torched by angry asylum seekers who faced ‘freezing cold’ conditions with no heating or hot water.
Riot police and firefighters were called out to the barracks last Friday amid reports that a 100-strong group started a riot, torched buildings and threatened staff at the temporary site.
No serious injuries were caused by the fire, but there was a ‘significant amount of damage’ inflicted on one part of the site.
Police say ‘reasonable force’ was used to ‘return him safely back inside’ because they claim he had been directed to self-isolate amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Pictured: The scene
The barracks have been used by the Government to house 400 asylum seekers since September
A total of 14 people have been arrested, and one man charged, following last week’s scenes, which followed complaints over conditions inside the barracks.
Further controversy has now been sparked after a clip of an asylum seeker being moved back into Napier Barracks emerged this week.
It is understood the incident took place on Wednesday.
According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, if a constable or PCSO considers that a notified person is away from the place where they are self-isolating they can ‘direct that person to return to the place where they are self-isolating’.
They are also able to ‘remove that person to the place where they are self-isolating’, if the ‘authorised person is a constable.’
Reasonable force may only be used by a constable, where necessary, in the exercise of the power to remove.
The guidance states that such powers should only be used where it is a ‘necessary and proportionate means of ensuring compliance with the requirement to self-isolate’.
The video clip, shared by migrant charity Care4Calais, appears to show a number of police gathered outside the barracks gates.
It comes as police arrested another nine people on Sunday after Napier Barracks was allegedly torched by angry asylum seekers who faced ‘freezing cold’ conditions with no heating or hot water. Pictured: The fire
Dozens of emergency service workers were on the scene as huge flames engulfed the barracks
Towards the end of the video, the man is seen being lifted through the open gate and set down on the wet tarmac a few feet inside.
Kent Police said officers ‘engaged with a man to explain and encourage him to follow government regulations and return to the site’.
However the force said he refused and officers were required to use ‘reasonable force to physically return him safely back inside’ and no enforcement action was taken.
On the use of force, Kent Police added: ‘Service users at the Napier Barracks site are currently required by law to self-isolate within the grounds of the site following a localised outbreak of Covid-19.
‘As such, when officers attended the site on 3 February following reports of a service user leaving the site, officers were required to use reasonable force to return the individual back to the venue.
Riot police and firefighters were called out to the barracks last Friday amid reports that a 100-strong group started a riot, torched buildings and threatened staff at the temporary site. Pictured: Stock image of the scene
‘Police officers are permitted to use reasonable force in circumstances where they believe it to be appropriate in the prevention of crime under the Criminal Law Act 1967.’
Mr Wagner commented on the video on Twitter, saying: ‘This is very troubling footage. These are not detainees. I am dubious that there is a legal basis for the police using force.
‘There is a power under the self-isolation regulations to use reasonable force to return somebody to the place they are supposed to be isolating but as far as I know, people at barracks weren’t given formal notifications to self-isolate… and therefore there was no power of enforcement’.
Police said the asylum seeker was later seen outside the barracks again and allegedly assaulted an officer and was arrested and taken into custody.
The Home Office has declined to comment.
The historic military site that once housed soldiers on their way to Europe in the First World War: A history of Napier Barracks
Napier Barracks is part of the larger Shorncliffe Army Camp near Cheriton, Kent.
The wider-camp was first established in 1794, when the area it is now build upon was purchased by the British Army.
The camp was home to the famed Light Division, who were trained there by Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore in 1803 before fighting under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars.
Napier Barracks itself wasn’t developed until 1890, when the camp was developed into a series of unit lines.
The wider Shorncliffe site was used during the First World War as a staging post for soldiers preparing to join the Western Front.
A large group of emergency service personnel, including officers in riot helmets and firefighters in full gear, at the site following the unrest last Friday
In 1915, 60,000 Canadian troops were based in Shorncliffe. The camp also hosted a military hospital.
Again in the Second World War, the site was called upon as a staging post for soldiers preparing to join the fight in Europe.
And it was visited in 1939 by Queen Mary, the wife of the then British monarch King George V.
The Shorncliffe site has hosted various units over the years, including The Royal Gurkha Rifles – which it still hosts today.
Much of the Shorncliffe site however has now left Ministry of Defence hands, with the Shorncliffe Garrison now part of a 1,200 home housing development.
Last year the Home Office secured a one-year deal to use Napier Barracks as accommodation for migrants.
The site is for single male migrants only, with no women or children allowed.
The site has its own medical team and provides food for migrants being kept there while their asylum claims are assessed.
Tensions have risen in recent days after a coronavirus outbreak hit the site, prompting some residents to reportedly sleep outside for fear of contracting Covid-19.