If the forced detention at Napier Barracks in Kent is Priti Patel’s vision of a ‘firm and fair’ system, it’s a dystopian one
For a place that lies at the centre of Britain’s fractious debates over migration, identity, and our post-Brexit role in the world, Napier Barracks – at first glance, at least – appears fairly unassuming. Its low-slung, redbrick accommodation blocks run alongside a public park on the western fringes of Folkestone, where teenagers smoke and dog walkers stroll and parents gather at the end of the day to pick up children from the adjacent preschool.
It’s only up close that you can make out the locked security gates, the coils of barbed wire installed atop 3 metre fences, and the privately employed guards on the other side, patrolling with walkie-talkies. “We died once already when we left our families, friends, homes and identities, so death is not something we are afraid of,” one of the more than 400 people locked up within the site told me in a text message last week. “But here we feel hopeless.”