LONDON – Police in southeast England said Sunday that they have made a further nine arrests at a former army barracks, which has been used to house hundreds of asylum-seekers and where a suspected arson attack took place.
Kent Police said in a statement that 14 people have now been arrested following a “disturbance” on Friday at the site in the coastal town of Folkestone, which saw windows smashed and a building set alight.
Five men previously arrested in connection with the unrest remain in custody. One of them, 31-year-old Mohammed Ali, has been charged “with assault by beating, using or threatening unlawful violence and criminal damage.” He is due to appear in court on Monday.
Police said no serious injuries were reported as a result of the attack, even though a “significant amount of damage was caused to one part of the site following a fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately.”
The fire broke out at the site, where around 400 people have been staying. The barracks has been dogged by accusations of poor conditions, and at least 120 residents reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 recently.
On Sunday, Britain's Home Office, which overseas asylum applications, is facing allegations from migrant charity Care4Calais that residents remaining at the barracks are living in “freezing cold” conditions and that 100 of them have COVID-19 without a doctor on site. The charity also said there was no hot water to wash with or to make tea, and that it's “essential” that appropriate care is provided.
The Home Office said the department is following all guidelines and that the barracks are “safe and secure." It also said that power was lost to much of the site for a time following the fire, but it has now been mostly restored.