First asylum seekers to move on to UK’s migrant barge despite fire warnings

The House Workplace is to move asylum seekers onto the Bibby Stockholm barge, despite considerations about fire security.

The primary group of round 40 persons are anticipated to arrive over the approaching days, however ministers declare greater than 500 will finally be housed on the vessel moored in Dorset.

The Impartial understands authorities have issued formal warnings about insufficient fire evacuation protocols for the vessel, which incorporates 222 cabins lining slim corridors over three decks.

An area councillor, who didn’t need to be named, mentioned the House Workplace’s choice to greater than double the Bibby Stockholm’s capability by cramming bunk beds into each room had elevated the chance.

“It’s the getting down off it that’s the difficulty,” mentioned the councillor, who visited the vessel final week. “Everyone panics when there’s a fire and the corridors are so small.

“Each situation has been put in place for a fire however you don’t add within the human factor of the panic.

“You’re not going to knock on every cabin saying ‘oh there’s a fire on deck 3’, everybody needs to get off as rapidly as doable.”

Officers say the Bibby Stockholm has three fire exits, however when The Impartial visited with different media on 21 July solely two had been in operation.

They had been each on the identical aspect of the barge, and one was closed off for security causes as a result of the gangway was deemed too steep to be used.

The quayside adjourning the barge is closed off at one finish, with 15ft steel fences and a locked gate separating it from the remainder of the port – sparking considerations about potential crushes amongst individuals fleeing any hazard.

Tim Naor Hilton, the chief govt of Refugee Motion, mentioned: “All individuals within the UK have the appropriate to stay in housing that isn’t harmful or harms their well being.

“Segregating, squeezing and detaining individuals on a jail barge will put individuals’s lives in danger, trigger horrendous well being points and make current issues worse, identical to we’ve seen in lodges. “

There are considerations about evacuations within the extent of a fire


Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service mentioned it had suggested on a fire danger evaluation drawn up by the vessel operators, Landry & Kling, who’ve been subcontracted by an Australian journey agency as half of a bigger £1.6bn House Workplace contract.

The authority’s fire security supervisor, Graham Kewley, mentioned it didn’t have the ability to approve the Bibby Stockholm for habitation however “will train our enforcement powers, both formal or casual, to deal with any vital areas of non-compliance the place needed”.

He added: “The place any side falls inside the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Security) Order, we might be endeavor acceptable audits to verify that satisfactory basic fire precautions are in place.

“We have now supplied recommendation and remark in relation to fire security preparations to each the House Workplace and the vessels operators throughout our familiarisation and pre-occupation visits.”

The Well being and Security Government mentioned it had issued separate recommendation over points on the quayside surrounding the barge and its considerations had been addressed.

“Our inspectors carried out a deliberate go to of Portland Port final week alongside Dorset Council’s Environmental Well being Crew,” a spokesperson added.

The official brochure for the Bibby Stockholm exhibits 222 single bedrooms, however the House Workplace has used bunk beds to push its capability to 506

(Bibby Marine)

“We supplied recommendation on building security, which has since been acted upon.”

The Impartial understands that the problems raised by authorities primarily concern situations the place the barge is at the next capability than it will likely be when an preliminary group of asylum seekers arrives this week.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson mentioned: “The Bibby Stockholm is at present present process remaining preparations, together with fire security checks – that is taking place this week – to be certain that it complies with all the suitable laws.

“There’s been refurbishment that is been ongoing to guarantee rooms adjust to marine business security laws.”

In regular circumstances one can go away the “safe compound” surrounding the vessel with out ready for a shuttle bus to take them to the port exit, which officers say is required for security causes.

As soon as on the primary gates, anybody is free to go away however the House Workplace is making an attempt to incentivise asylum seekers to make use of deliberate actions and hourly buses into the close by resort city of Weymouth.

A view of inside one of many bedrooms onboard the Bibby Stockholm lodging barge at Portland Port in Dorset


Following an outbreak of diphtheria on the Manston detention centre, and scabies and tuberculosis circumstances on the Wethersfield army base, a nurse might be on web site 5 days every week and in a position to refer sufferers to a GP if needed.

The Bibby Stockholm noticed at the least one particular person die, and experiences of rape and abuse on board, when it was utilized by the Dutch authorities to detain refugees within the 2000s.

A 2008 Amnesty Worldwide report obtained by The Impartial contained testimony from a 32-year-old asylum seeker known as Ben, who mentioned: “The situations drive you into submission; they kill you psychologically.”

The Bibby Stockholm was later refurbished and used for industrial contracts to home employees, however at a most capability of 222 individuals.

Solely single grownup males beforehand in lodges might be housed on the barge, following “suitability” assessments and safety checks, the House Workplace mentioned.

The federal government insists the barge might be cheaper than lodges, the place round 50,000 asylum seekers are at present housed at a value of £6m a day however have refused to estimate the price of every place.

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