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Eritrean refugee 'grabbed knife and terrified staff' at army barracks

Eritrean asylum seeker ‘grabbed knife and terrified staff’ at ex-army barracks holding hundreds of migrants

  • Police were scrambled to the camp in Folkestone, Kent on Monday morning
  • Sources describe the barracks as a ‘ticking time bomb’ with tensions rising
  • A 33-year-old man was arrested by police but was then just given a caution 

Police were scrambled to a former army barracks after an Eritrean asylum seeker was said to have ‘grabbed a knife and terrified staff’.  

Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, is home to hundreds of refugees, with two escaping every week according to reports.

Now sources have described the camp as a ‘ticking time bomb’ after the latest incident, which is believed to have left many working there shaken.

Police officers pictured at the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, on an unrelated visit 

The barracks was turned into an ‘assessment and dispersal facility’ for migrants –  the first migrant camp in the UK

Now sources have described the camp as a ‘ticking time bomb’ after the latest incident, which is believed to have left many working there shaken

Officers were called on Monday morning following reports of a man with a knife.

The refugee, who it is thought arrived in the UK from Eritrea just days before, caused panic after setting off a fire alarm, according to the Sun. 

He then grabbed a blade as a security guard tried to turn off the alarm, as other staff members retreated and phoned 999.

Police attended and arrested a 33-year-old man, but he was only given a caution.

A source told the site:  ‘The atmosphere at the Barracks is like a ticking time bomb. Many of the people being held there don’t want to be and as a result there are often lots of flare-ups.

‘It is only a matter of time before things really kick off and the worry is that someone could eventually end up getting seriously hurt.’

A Kent Police spokesman said: ‘Kent Police was called at 7.45am on Monday 14 December 2020 to a report that a man had been seen with a knife at an address in Sandgate, Folkestone.

‘Officers attended and a 33-year-old man was arrested. A knife was seized and no injuries were reported.

‘The man and witnesses were spoken to and the man was later given a caution for assault.’

It comes after it was revealed that two migrants are escaping the camp every week. 

A view of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are housed

Napier Barracks was turned into an ‘assessment and dispersal facility’ for migrants, with 400 arriving in September at the height of the migrant crisis, which has seen thousands cross the Channel and arrive in Britain this year.  

September saw the most arrivals in the UK – with nearly 2,000 migrants landing, more than all of 2019. 

Now, it has been revealed that eight arrivals were recorded as absent from the camp between September 22 and October 20. 

Damian Collins, the MP Folkestone and Hythe, wrote to the Home Office asking how it could have happened.

He told The Telegraph: ‘The number of asylum seekers that have already left the camp raises serious questions about the security of the Napier Barracks facility.’ 

The barracks was one of two sites set up to ensure migrants are socially distanced during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bridget Chapman, learning and project coordinator at Kent Refugee Action Network, argued earlier this week that the barracks camp is an inappropriate facility in light of its current abscontion rate.

She said: ‘Most people arriving have strong asylum claims and want those to be processed. It would have to be extremely bad for them to remove themselves from that process, so it is extremely concerning. 

A Home Office spokesperson told the MailOnline: ‘We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help.

‘We hand details of anyone who absconds to the police and our specialist tracing team, who do everything they can to track these individuals down and, once found, their claim may be rejected.’ 

A row of beds at the former disused barracks in Folkestone, Kent, that houses asylum seekers

A source suggested that, if a person absconds before a decision is made, or if they fail to comply with our processes, their asylum claim can be withdrawn.

The camp hit the news in November after migrants staying there protested against conditions. 

Crowds shouted ‘we want freedom’ as they shoved against a fence on the site.

Footage recorded by an onlooker showed the group hit and pull at the barrier while officers watch from the other side.

The camp has proved controversial since being set up. 

Council leader David Monk initially expressed ‘great concerns’ in a co-signed letter with local MP Damian Collins and Sandgate Parish Council leader Cllr Tim Prater.

They asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to halt the plans after blasting ‘exceptionally poor communication,’ claiming to have been given ‘very little notice of this decision and it’s one we cannot support’. 

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