By Rod Minchin, PA
Questions are being asked about why migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are to be housed in military barracks 300 miles away in west Wales while their asylum claims are processed.
Dafydd Llywelyn, the police and crime commissioner for the Dyfed-Powys force, has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel about the decision to use the Ministry of Defence’s Penally site in Pembrokeshire.
It is understood the barracks are being considered for use by the Home Office, alongside temporary accommodation at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent.
Mr Llywelyn said the barracks could house 250 migrants while their asylum claims are processed.
In the letter, the Plaid Cymru politician raises his “significant concerns” about the “lack of a clear strategy, detail and consultation surrounding these plans”.
“I am personally unable to fully understand the rationale for selecting the Penally site and would like clarification on how this decision was reached and how the proposed logistics will work,” he wrote.
“Asylum seekers, upon arrival at the UK, will have to travel a further five hours and 300 miles to a proposed site in Penally, Pembrokeshire, albeit there will be no power to detain once at the site.
“The site and local community is unlikely, in my opinion, to have the necessary infrastructure to support their needs and the location of the site would make accessing services unnecessarily difficult for vulnerable individuals.
“I fully realise that difficult decisions need to be made in the interests of both those seeking asylum and our local communities.”
Mr Llywelyn said he sought “detailed planning, community engagement and transparency of decision-making”.
A UK Government spokesman said on Tuesday: “During these unprecedented times, the Government is working with a range of partners and across departments to secure further accommodation and the MoD has offered use of some of its sites.
“When using contingency accommodation we work closely with organisations, including local authorities and law enforcement, throughout the process to ensure value for money and that vulnerable asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, have suitable accommodation while their claims are processed.”