A number of asylum seekers at Napier Barracks previously tested positive for coronavirus. In line with advice from Public Health England, over the last week the Home Office moved a number of asylum seekers from the site.
The purpose of this was to allow others at Napier to self-isolate more easily and conduct a site-wide deep cleaning exercise.
On Friday, 29 January, a number of asylum seekers who remained at Napier objected to not being moved off site. They became aggressive toward staff on site, turned violent and set about destroying the barracks, putting lives in danger.
An accommodation block was set on fire resulting in a kitchen and canteen being badly damaged. The fire-damaged block has been secured and cordoned off and other blocks remain in use. Meals continue to be provided to those accommodated at the site.
Kent Police and Fire & Rescue Service attended the site to maintain order and extinguish the fire. The situation is now under control: a number of arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing. We are aware of one person with minor injuries, from which they are expected to make a full recovery.
We are clear that this type of action will not be tolerated, and the Home Office will support the police to take robust action against those vandalising property, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.