A senior police chief has admitted officers are consulting with counter-terrorism experts about threats from the far right at a military base in North Yorkshire where the Home Office is planning to house 1,500 asylum seekers.
On Thursday night a meeting of residents in the small village of Linton-on-Ouse was told that the first people were due to move in in less than two weeks. The chief inspector for Hambleton and Richmondshire, David Hunter, also acknowledged at the meeting that police were being assisted with advice from Counter-Terrorism North East to prepare for the threat of far-right activity which could put the asylum seekers at risk.
Home Office officials, along with their sub-contractors Serco who will be managing the accommodation, attended the meeting of Linton Parish council to answer questions about the plans from concerned villagers and campaigners. Approximately 10 far-right protesters gathered outside but were barred from entry by police.
Asylum seekers held at other military barracks such as Penally in Wales, which has now closed, and Napier in Kent have experienced harassment from far-right demonstrators.
The Home Office is planning to move 1,500 asylum seekers into the military base, a former RAF station which closed in 2020,in the village which has just 700 residents. The first 60 people are due to move in on 31 May.
Villagers and activists who oppose the plans have launched a campaign against the Home Office using the slogan “wrong plan, wrong place”.
On Wednesday evening Conservative-controlled North Yorkshire county council passed a vote of no confidence in the Home Office “due to the lack of consultation of local communities and stakeholders”.
At the parish council meeting on Thursday evening residents were told that there would be guards on the gates at the base and an increased police presence in the village between 8.30am and midnight seven days a week.
Home Office officials who attended the meeting said there would be multi-agency forums and sub-groups for local people to raise concerns. The home secretary, Priti Patel, is also to visit to hear their concerns, the meeting was told.
Hunter said in response to a question about whether police are prepared for far-right activity at the site: “Counter-Terrorism North East are assisting us and advising us.”
Nicola David, chair of Ripon City of Sanctuary and a member of the Linton-on-Ouse action group, said to Home Office officials at the meeting: “You treat asylum seekers like animals, like pawns in your political game.”