The UK Government have today (16 March) said that the Home Office has agreed to return Penally camp, in Pembrokeshire, to the Ministry of Defence by 21 March. Plaid Cymru had been campaigning to close the camp due to widely reported health, safety, and human rights concerns.
A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) described the site as ‘filthy', 'impoverished' and 'run-down' earlier this month.
Plaid Cymru Dyfed-Powys PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said:
“I am pleased that common-sense has prevailed and that the Home Office has agreed to close the accommodation site at Penally Camp. I have been calling for the camp to close since the very beginning and was pleased to see similar criticisms reflected in the damming inspections findings from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration earlier this month.
"The Home Office’s use of the camp, especially during a global pandemic, has put immense strain on local people, services, and the residents themselves, its closure will be a welcome relief to all.
"What happened at Penally must not be repeated. The Home Office must learn the right lessons, so that we avoid similar situations in the future, whereby camps and other military sites are repurposed without proper engagement with local communities or input from services.”
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader and Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP said:
“It thanks to the hard work of Plaid Cymru PCC Dafydd Llywelyn and councillor Jon Preston that the Home Office finally bowed to pressure and agreed to close the camp – but it should have never come to this.
“The institutional failures of the Home Office over Penally camp are a scandal that must not be brushed under the carpet. We now need binding guarantees that a situation like this can never happen again.
“We need an asylum system that puts the welfare of those seeking asylum first, and for communities to be at the heart of decision making.”