London police arrest 45 protestors during attempt to stop asylum seekers being moved to barge News
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London police arrest 45 protestors during attempt to stop asylum seekers being moved to barge

London’s Metropolitan Police arrested 45 protestors on Thursday during an attempt to stop the government moving asylum seekers to the Bibby Stockholm barge. Those arrested were detained for offenses including obstruction of the highway, obstructing police and assault on officers. 

The protestors were attempting to prevent the removal of asylum seekers from a London hotel to the Bibby Stockholm barge, currently located off the southern coast of England. Protesters were arguing that the barge is unsuitable for housing asylum seekers and that many had built community relations in London.

The barge began housing asylum seekers in August 2023 but has been surrounded in controversy regarding its safety, including a legionella scare days after its opening. This was followed by a death on board in December 2023. Amnesty International UK has said that the barge was “an utterly shameful way to house people who have fled terror, conflict and persecution.”

In a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said that, “We will always respect the right to peaceful protest but we have been clear that where there is serious disruption and criminality then we will take decisive action.

The government response to the protest and subsequent arrests has been critical. Home Secretary James Cleverly said, “Housing migrants in hotels costs the British taxpayer millions of pounds every day. We will not allow this small group of students, posing for social media, to deter us from doing what is right for the British public.”

The protest comes at a time when immigration is a particularly controversial topic in British politics. Last week, after several legal challenges, the government passed their Rwanda plan through Parliament, meaning asylum seekers can be sent to the African nation whilst having their asylum claims considered.