FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Migrants Organise is seeking to raise a legal challenge against the Home Office’s use of the Bibby Stockholm barge as asylum support accommodation
- Despite serious risks raised by Migrants Organise and others, the Home Office has insisted on moving individuals onto the Bibby Stockholm barge today
- “The Bibby Stockholm is not safe and no amount of repurposing can make it so. It will never be an appropriate place to put people who are seeking safety, here to rebuild their lives. We need appropriate, compassionate and safe infrastructure to support individuals and welcome them into our communities.”
AUGUST 7 — Ahead of today’s move of people seeking asylum onto the Bibby Stockholm barge by the Home Office, migrant rights charity Migrants Organise, represented by Wilson Solicitors and barristers at Garden Court Chambers, sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Home Office challenging the use of the Bibby Stockholm as accommodation for people seeking asylum.
The letter, sent on August 6th to the Home Office’s lawyers, asks that the Home Office stops the move of all individuals onto the Bibby Stockholm until and unless all concerns regarding the safety and suitability of the barge have been adequately addressed, including the necessary fire safety checks. The letter also asks for a suitable and effective screening process to be put in place and for individuals to be provided at least 72 hours’ notice, including at least one working day, of a move on board.
Migrants Organise claims that the Bibby Stockholm is not suitable accommodation for people seeking asylum, and that the Home Office’s plans raise serious risks. Contrary to the Home Office’s own published policy, Migrants Organise is aware of disabled people, victims of torture and people with severe mental health issues, as well as those with phobias of water being given notice to move to the Bibby Stockholm.
In their previous correspondence with the Home Office on July 24th and 31st, Migrants Organise had raised several strong concerns regarding conditions on board including unlawful detention of individuals, overcrowding, risk from far right groups, and lack of privacy. They also highlighted to the Home Office that HMP Weare, a prison ship akin to the Bibby Stockholm, housed in Portland Port from 1997 to 2005, was notably evacuated on an urgent basis due to unacceptable fire risk when its sprinkler system was found to be faulty after the prison service moved prisoners on board against the advice of local fire chiefs . HMP Weare eventually closed down due to “unacceptably cramped and claustrophobic conditions” and due to it being “unsuitable, expensive and in the wrong place” and “entirely unsuitable for its present function” .
A recent Freedom of Information Request from NHS Dorset reveals that a draft outbreak management plan warns of the impact of an outbreak on the barge . Last week, the Fire Brigade Union also wrote to the Home Secretary to raise concerns about the fire safety of the barge .
Despite these concerns raised by Migrants Organise and others, the Home Office has insisted on moving people into the barge today. Individuals were given notices late on Friday evening for a move early the following Monday, significantly limiting their ability to obtain independent legal advice, as is their right. Migrants Organise is particularly concerned about individuals who cannot obtain legal support and so are effectively forced to move to accommodation that is wholly inadequate for them and dangerous.
Brian Dikoff, Legal Organiser at Migrants Organise said: “The Bibby Stockholm barge is designed to be unwelcoming, controversial and act as a very visible form of punishment and deterrence. We had very serious concerns about safety on board and that the Home Office would not properly screen or safeguard individuals planned to be moved to the barge, and we are now seeing these concerns becoming reality. The Bibby Stockholm is not safe and no amount of repurposing can make it so. It will never be an appropriate place to put people who are seeking safety, here to rebuild their lives. We need appropriate, compassionate and safe infrastructure to support individuals and welcome them into our communities.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
 “Fire-risk prison ship abandoned.” Ian Burrell. The Independent. (26 June 1997)
 Inspection by the Independent Monitoring Board Chief Inspector for Prisons Anne Owers, dated 7-10 June 2004 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U25aVQzNG18uZnxlmwc6axqSAyF_tfiC/view?usp=sharing
 “Bibby Stockholm move-ins planned for Monday despite outbreak warnings.” Diane Taylor and Aletha Adu. The Guardian. (6 August 2023) https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/06/bibby-stockholm-move-ins-planned-for-monday-despite-outbreak-warnings
 “Firefighters’ union demands meeting with Braverman over Bibby Stockholm fire safety.” Fire Brigades Union (2 August 2023) https://www.fbu.org.uk/news/2023/08/02/firefighters-union-demands-meeting-braverman-over-bibby-stockholm-fire-safety
Migrants Organise is an award-winning, grassroots platform where migrants connect, build common ground, and organise for dignity and justice for all.
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