Home Office says just one racist incident recorded at Penally camp
Home Office figures record just one racist incident during protests at the Pembrokeshire military barracks used to house asylum seekers.
This is despite the temporary accommodation in the coastal village of Penally becoming a target for crowds of far-right protesters with police called on to protect occupants.
Campaigners say the Home Office figure is a major underestimation of the levels of abuse that asylum seekers were facing.
Maddie Harris, of Humans for Rights Network, told the Guardian: “The figures shown here are not an accurate representation of the level of racial abuse endured by the people we support.
“We have had numerous conversations with asylum seekers where they have told us how unsafe they feel due to frequent incidents of racial abuse that they have experienced in and around these accommodations.”
The data covers from January 1st 2020 until the camp’s closure in March 2021.
Groups representing asylum seekers say that legal challenges by those staying inside the Penally camp reveal a catalogue of disturbing incidents involving the protesters.
These include attempts to ram people with vehicles, stones and bottles being thrown into the camp, rape threats and fireworks being let off.
One report said that protesters were trying to buy pigeon scarers to mimic the sounds of gunfire to frighten the camp occupants.
The Home Office has been criticised for ‘fundamental failures’ over its management of Penally and a similar barracks in Napier, Kent.
Penally and the Napier were both run on behalf of the UK Government by Clearsprings, a private company. The Home Office say four racist incidents were recorded at the Kent barracks.
The Welsh Government said they had not been consulted by the Home Office or Ministry of Defence about the plans to use Penally to house around 240 asylum seekers.
When the camp opened in September 2020, police clashed with demonstrators with reports that far-right protesters were travelling to the village from across the UK.
The camp was closed in March 2021 after receiving a damning report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) which highlighted the deteriorating mental health of residents as well as the site’s lack of Covid protection and fire safety.