Police boss asks about closure plans for ‘unsuitable’ ‘Penally asylum camp
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A police boss has asked about closure plans for the “unsuitable” Penally asylum camp.
Dafydd Llywelyn, the Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, said he has visited the camp for asylum seekers in Pembrokeshire, and that men being held in the former army barracks have protested about the conditions.
Mr Llywelyn was speaking at a meeting of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel on February 5.
“My view is that the camp is unsuitable,” he said.
The commissioner said he’d asked Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance, about any closure plans when they met.
“Unfortunately he could not give me more information about that timetable but that it is a temporary arrangement,” he said.
According to Mr Llywelyn, Dyfed-Powys Police has remained “very active” across the force area despite the additional demands of the camp.
He said policing on a daily basis involved officers moving from one area to another when demand called for it.
But he added that “we have seen an impact of Penally in some areas” because of the resources required, mainly at the beginning last autumn when protests and counter-protests took place.
The commissioner went on to say: “What I can confirm and give you assurance is that the police have been very active cross the force area, despite the fact that Penally has been an additional area.”
A report before the panel said policing the temporary camp between September and the end of December last year had required 13,919 hours of officer time.
The Home Office said it has agreed to provide £2.5 million of “special grant” funding to Dyfed-Powys Police to police the camp up to September 2021. This money can only be drawn down once the total cost exceeds 1 per cent the force’s annual budget.
In Dyfed-Powys Police’s case, this means it would need to spend £1.12 million.
Members of the panel have resolved to write Home Secretary Priti Patel, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse and MPs in the force area, calling on the Home Office to fully reimburse Dyfed-Powys Police for all Penally costs, even if they fell below the usual 1 per cent threshold.
In response, Mr Philp said: “We continue to work closely in partnership with the police, local authority and other stakeholders, with a clear focus on the safety and well-being of both those accommodated at the site and local residents.
“We have already agreed to provide £2.5 million of special grant funding to Dyfed-Powys Police up to September 2021.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said the 1 per cent rule would not be applied if the force was to apply for a further special grant after September.