page icon


Like a prison: The negative impact of barracks accommodation on the health of people seeking protection

Jennifer Blair

In September 2020 the then Home Secretary Priti Patel began to use disused military sites as asylum accommodation. Two disused military sites were used under the main barracks housing policy: Penally Camp, a site in Pembrokeshire in Wales that had been used as a military training site and Napier Barracks, which is a larger site situated in Kent, England.

Despite the High Court finding that conditions in Napier Barracks were unlawful and had led to the Covid outbreak among residents there and despite a heavily critical report from the national inspectorate, the Home Office has continued to use the site and is currently in the process of looking to open new accommodation centres modelled on Napier Barracks.

This report evaluates the findings from clinical assessments of individual barracks residents which were undertaken by HBF General Practitioners and Psychiatrists between September 2020 and March 2021. HBF runs a medico-legal report service and the clinical assessments were requested by residents’ legal representatives. The analysis in the report is also informed by a scoping literature review undertaken of relevant peer-reviewed and grey literature sources from the past 10 years. It highlights the ways in which barracks accommodation is harmful as a form of accommodation for those seeking asylum.

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 incorporates legislation for large-scale accommodation centres in the UK and offshore asylum processing sites, although the government already has the power under previous legislation to introduce accommodation centres and has made clear its intention to do so. In this context, it is important to explore alternative options of housing for people seeking asylum that would be fit for purpose, without causing harm to health and failures in protection.