Open Letter to Port of Tyne: No Floating Prisons on the Tyne

In early June, reports in the Guardian suggested that the Government is considering plans to use a barge to accommodate people seeking asylum on the Tyne.
In response, people across Tyneside, including local refugee organisations, councillors and residents, have signed a joint public letter to the Port of Tyne calling on them to take no part in any plans to create a floating prison on the Tyne. The full text of the letter and list of signatories is below.

For the attention of Matt Beeton, CEO and Lucy Armstrong, Chair, Port of Tyne

Dear Mr Beeton and Ms Armstrong,

We are writing following recent reports that the Home Office is considering using a barge to accommodate people seeking asylum on the Tyne. We urge the Port of Tyne not to take any part in plans to create a floating prison on the Tyne.

It is imperative that no deal is done to place people seeking asylum in any facility on the Tyne.  People seeking asylum should be able to live as members of our communities while they wait for a decision on their asylum claim, not warehoused in barges or ships. 

Placing hundreds or thousands of people in a vessel would cause significant harm to people fleeing war and persecution. Many people may have been forced to make traumatic journeys over sea, and using ships or barges as accommodation risks retraumatising vulnerable people. The use of similar facilities in other countries have resulted in human rights violations and humanitarian crises, with a typhoid outbreak and reports of mistreatment and deaths on ships in the Netherlands.

Current Government plans to vastly increase the detention of people seeking asylum also mean that it is possible that any vessel used for accommodation in the short-term could formally become a detention facility, in contravention of the UK’s international obligations.

The significant harm caused by segregating people seeking asylum from the community has been well evidenced in reports from current institutional asylum accommodation, and by a wealth of research on detention-like conditions. Asylum accommodation has long been characterised by a lack of local consultation and resourcing, as well as inadequate healthcare and screening for vulnerabilities. People seeking asylum are effectively banned from working, and are kept in limbo for months or even years on minimal levels of asylum support. All too often, people are only able to access the support and services they need via extremely stretched voluntary organisations.

Across Tyneside, voluntary services are already stretched to capacity largely thanks to the Government’s extensive mismanagement of the asylum system. It would be impossible to step up the support and services that a barge at the Port of Tyne would require. In Birkenhead, Peel Ports have recently refused to further consider similar plans for a barge as they could “not see any conceivable scenario” in which local services would be “able to provide the necessary support”. On Teesside, PD Ports has said that a barge at Teesport “would not be viable”. We urge you to follow suit.

We understand that the Port of Tyne identifies treating people with respect, dignity and consideration among your key values, and we ask that you stand by those principles. Portland Port and Bibby Marine have undermined their stated values by agreeing to allow the Bibby Stockholm to be used to warehouse people seeking refuge in Dorset. We urge you not to make the same mistake, and we call on the Port of Tyne to refuse to enter into any similar agreements on the Tyne. 


Joan Hoult, CEO, Walking With in North Tyneside

Dr Pat Bond, Chair, New to the UK (Churches Together in North Shields)

Duncan McAuley, CEO, Action Foundation

Clare Hurst, Deputy Centre Director, North East Law Centre

Penny Henry, Spokesperson, Tynemouth Together With Refugees

Jennifer Laws, Campaigns Manager NE, Asylum Matters

Shami Hamidi, IANE, BME Case Advocate, North Shields

Alisdair Cameron, Co-Director, ReCoCo

Jane Kysow, Chair, Hexham Amnesty International Group

Dr Mohamed Nasreldin, Director, North of England Refugee Service 

Miranda Reilly, Director, The Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees

Eleni Venaki, The Comfrey Project, Director

Caroline Afolabi-Deleu, Chair, Success4All

The Revd Christopher Minchin, Vicar, Benwell and Scotswood Team Parish, Church of England

Dr Kate Mukungu, Chief Executive, Riverside Community Health Project

Dr. Helen Groom, Chairperson, No To Hassockfield

Steve Newman, Chair, FODI Sunderland

Cat Hurst-McGahey, Chair, LGBT+ Northern Social Group Chair

Jacqui Jobson, Co-Chair, Rainbow Home

Sadia Sikandar, Member of Advisory Board and Community Campaigns Group, WERS 

Karen Dobson, CEO, Scotswood Natural Community Garden Ltd 

Shelley Purchon, Director, English Unlocked

Dr Lauren Wroe, Co-Founder and Trustee of Social Workers Without Borders, Assistant Professor at Durham University

Agnes, Spokesperson, Women for Refugee Women

Richard Young, Chair, Tyneside Welcomes

Bob Miller, Secretary, Wearside Amnesty

Elizabeth Josephs, Regional Lead, Care4Calais North East

Phil Watson, Chair, Justice and Peace Co-ordinating Council Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle 

John Harrison, Disabled People Against the Cuts North East

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside

Cllr John O’Shea, Elected Member, North Tyneside Council

Cllr Habib Rahman, Elected Member, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Cllr Lesley Storey, Elected Member, Newcastle City Council

Ian Ayres, Secretary, North Tyneside Trades Union Council

Ed Whitby, NEC Member,  International Officer and Shop Steward, Newcastle City Unison 

Dr Sally Walker, Retired Port of Tyne Medical Officer, North Shields

Mick Cave, Senior Public Health Improvement Practitioner, South Shields

Nicholas Lewis, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Harrogate

Laura McGregor, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Gateshead

Luis Soars, Clinical Psychologist, Chester le Street

Faye Soares, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Durham

Katrina Heywood, Educational Psychologist, Newcastle upon Tyne

Claire Mayer, Clinical Psychologist, Newcastle upon Tyne

Miriam Beeks, GP, Hackney 

Dr Amit Chatterjee, GP, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Meghan Graham, Psychologist, London

Ash Summers, Clinical Psychologist, North Shields

Dr Christian Harkensee, Consultant Paediatrician, Gateshead

Dr Kathy Burrows, Clinical Psychologist, Durham

Jacob Easton, Gateshead 

Tony Marron, North Shields

Penny Marron, North Shields

Tom Martin, Alnwick

Angela Handy, Company Director, The Claypath Deli

Carly Lovedawn, Pelaw, Gateshead

Helen Joyce, Whitley Bay 

Melisa Maida, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Sinéad McClement, Newcastle upon Tyne

Jill Hardie, Interim Manager, Rainbow Home   

Benjamin Hopkinson, Volunteer, Northumberland County of Sanctuary

Tom Lynam, Active Inclusion Officer, Newcastle City Council

Emma Pearson, Support Worker, West End Refugee Service

Pippa Kendall, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Pam Wortley, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Tim Fetherston, Sunderland

Gabrielle Bernstone, Newcastle upon Tyne

Julia Whitaker, Hexham

Chris Easton, Newcastle upon Tyne

Colin Taylor, Rowlands Gill 

Thomas Lovedawn, Specialist Link Worker, Pelaw, Gateshead

Andrea Carter, Gateshead

Julie Fernyhough, Newcastle upon Tyne

Marion Cairns, Newcastle upon Tyne

Catherine Mackereth, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Katie Bifani, Youth and Community Worker Lead, Newcastle

Raissa Kometa, Benefit Advisor, Newcastle upon Tyne

Kate Wisbach, Whitley Bay

June Holmes, Solicitor, Newcastle upon Tyne

Oliwia Libelt, Sunderland

Chris Myers, Seghill, Cramlington 

Francis Reavley, Kirkwhelpington

 Julie Maxwell, Finance Manager, Jarrow 

Dr Lewis Turner, Lecturer in International Politics, Newcastle University

Malene Jacobsen, Newcastle upon Tyne

Faye Greason, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Martin Heslop, North Shields

Yossra Abdelrahim, North Shields

Oliver Batchelor, Gateshead

Courtney Wallace, Gateshead

Simon Campbell, Volunteer Support Worker, Wolsingham 

Alison Jelf, Newcastle upon Tyne

Bridget Rutherford, Newcastle upon Tyne

Alice Campbell, Wolsingham

Ann Gittins, Newcastle upon Tyne

Farah Kurji, Newcastle upon Tyne

Jenny Hopper, Whitley Bay

Sam Turnbull, Chester-le-Street

Kathleen, Newcastle upon Tyne

Gareth Stephens, CBT Therapist, Newcastle upon Tyne

Emer Chatterjee, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Marie Donnelly, Social Worker, Sunderland

Dermot Delaney, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Dawn Turner, Fulwell 

Russell Purchon, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 

Kate Dulohery, North Shields 

Howell Davies, Chester-le-Street 

Carmel McGrath, Newcastle upon Tyne

Emma Patterson, Local Government, Killingworth, North Tyneside 

Francesca Di Giorgio, Newcastle upon Tyne

Philip Waite, Wolsingham 

Amir Kurji, Newcastle upon Tyne

Judith Waters, Wylam, Northumberland

Nicky Waters, Newcastle 

Hazel Tinegate, Morpeth

Amelia, WERS Volunteer, Newcastle

Grania Rogers, Volunteer, Hexham

Paul Bream, Wallsend

Joanne Underwood, Sunderland

Julie Ward, Freelance education consultant working in South Tyneside, Barnard Castle

Simone J Rudolphi, Educator/Documentary Photographer, Wallsend 

Ian Parsons, Newcastle upon Tyne

Chris Simmons, Newcastle upon Tyne

Rose Seabury, Chester-le-Street 

Melanie Birch, Newcastle upon Tyne

Anya Cook, Newcastle upon Tyne

Helen Allen, Whitley Bay

Jean Crocker, Gateshead 

Lesley Spillard, Wallsend

Louise Brown, North East for Europe, Sunderland 

Helen Frampton, Whitley Bay

Ali Rhind, Together with Refugees Group Member, Whitley Bay 

Claire Metcalfe, Newcastle upon Tyne

Mhairi Rooney, Gateshead 

Debbie Beeks, Gateshead

Helen Frankenberg, Whitley Bay

Anni Sanderson, Tynemouth

Jane Young, Newcastle upon Tyne

Melissa Girling, Newcastle 

Helen Pennington, Volunteer, Tynemouth

Kathleen Burn, Whitley Bay

Catherine Donovan, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Simon Veit-Wilson, Whitley Bay

Caroline Hoile, Newcastle upon Tyne

Nichola Rushton, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Margaret Tennant, Whitley Bay

Helen Johnson, Tynemouth

Henry Tennant, Whitley Bay

Helen Baker, Retired Teacher, Tynemouth

Sue Barker, Tynemouth

Kathy Wesolowski, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Karen Rann, Gateshead 

John Giddins, Tynemouth 

Bryony Spencer, Tynemouth

Noel Sharpe, Durham City

Mallory Smith, Tynemouth

Jen Bell, Newcastle upon Tyne

Caroline Brazier, Whitley Bay

Debbie Swain, Whitley Bay

Erica Haimes, Rowlands Gill

Paula Mulvenna, Retired Doctor, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Hannah King, Durham

Gabrielle Karimian, Whitley Bay

Robin Williams, Emeritus Professor, Rowlands Gill

Lesley Duke, Humanitarian, Hexham

Colin Quigley, Newcastle upon Tyne

Alison Jobe, Associate Professor, Durham University

Jessica Port, Tynemouth

Stephen O’Mara, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Sean Haimes, Shildon

Mags Leighton, Durham 

Anon, Wetherby

Naomi Jackson, Social Worker, Social Workers Without Borders, Norwich 

Deborah Carey, North Shields

Robert Lawrance, Newcastle upon Tyne

Neil Sabin, Newcastle upon Tyne

Sue Dean, Whitley Bay

Harriet Yudkin, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Sarah Blackburn, Whitley Bay

Jenni Corner, Writer – Director, Tynemouth, North Shields 

Emma Rowell, Barnard Castle 

Jude Kirton-Darling, Former MEP North East England, Hexham

Rachael Marron, North Shields

Steve Balackburn, Whitley Bay

Lynne Heasman, Consett 

Matthew Planchant, Newcastle upon Tyne 

L A Laidlaw, Tynemouth

Patricia Stevens, Tynemouth

Karen Leaver, Tynemouth

Rosie Robertson, Glasgow

Loraine Masiya Mponela, Author, Coventry 

Michael Duckett, Newcastle upon Tyne

Rosemary Atwill, Retired Teacher, Rochester 

James Hanna, NEU, Teacher, Canterbury 

Kenneth Taylor, Hexham

Anne Marron, Cullercoats

Annette Chevallier, Tynemouth 

Shirley Bruce, Newcastle upon Tyne

Lorna MacKay, Newcastle upon Tyne

Kathryn Graham, Newcastle upon Tyne

Anne Baker, Newcastle upon Tyne

Pauline Jenkins, Volunteer Supporter, North Tyneside 

Matt Graham, Croxley Green 

Brendan Murphy, Whitley Bay

Fatmata Turay, Participant, Women with Hope, Birmingham 

Brian Wood, Volunteer, New to the UK, North Shields

Jill Whiteford, Newcastle upon Tyne

Adele Stober, Hexham

Noreen Rees, Whitley Bay

Joan McSloy, North Shields

Angela Kennedy, Ryton 

Robert Lawrance, Newcastle upon Tyne

Rebecca Mather, Gateshead

Wendy Howdin, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Wendy Gregory, Newcastle upon Tyne

Donna Cheshire, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Jane Freeman, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Ingrid Fuller, Newcastle upon Tyne

Alison McGowan, Wallsend

Mary Lowe, Newcastle upon Tyne

Rebecca Knight, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Isiobel Stewart, Newcastle upon Tyne

Stephen Wingate, Bedlington 

Julie Ballands, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Iris, Care Worker, Clara Vale

Josh Morland, Ryton

John Snowdon, Newcastle upon Tyne

Andy Jones, Humanist Celebrant, Newcastle upon Tyne

Lottie Hann, Newcastle upon Tyne

Dan Rogers, Newcastle Upon Tyne 

Zenzile Chabuka, Participant, Women With Hope, Birmingham 

Annie Sheridan, Cullercoats

Penny Remfry, Whitley Bay

Richard Smithson, Whitley Bay

Helen Bell, Whitley Bay 

Tracy Affleck, Newcastle upon Tyne

Allie Wilson Craw, Newcastle upon Tyne

Anastasia Gerontaki, North Shields 

Ian Jones, Tynemouth

Dr Liz Moylett, Ryton Gateshead

Andy SJ Lie, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Peter Quinn, North Shields

Joan Hewitt, Resident, North Shields 

Mark Husmann, North Shields

Mike Tilley, Whitley Bay

Jane Scharf, North Shields 

Pam Goddard, Kirkcudbright

Vicki Gilbert, North Shields

Julia Charlton, Tutor, Whitley Bay

S Worst, Newcastle upon Tyne

Sarah, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Jamie Callahan, Whickham

Martin Wm. Collins, Member, North Tyneside Green Party, Wallsend

Mandi Cresswell, Newcastle upon Tyne

Stefano Cremonesi, Durham

Graham Mowl, University Lecturer, Whitley Bay

George Ayres, Whitley Bay

Abby Hanson, Newcastle upon Tyne

Nazim Bharmal, York

Dr Gwyneth Lonergan, Lecturer in Sociology, Northumbria University

Rachel Ayres, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Laurie Campbell , Newcastle upon Tyne

Stephen King, Cullercoats, North Shields

David Almond, Author, Tynemouth

Rachel Goulding, Welfare Benefit Caseworker, Cullercoats

Dimitris Skleparis, Lecturer, Newcastle University

John Searle, Kirkcudbright

Harriet Menter, Newcastle upon Tyne

David Peel, North Shields

Ricky Thamman Volunteer at Spice FM, North East Against Racism, Mental Health North East, Freedom From Torture, Newcastle upon Tyne

Sarah Rennie, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Sitna Quiroz, Durham

Shayan Gazerani, Newcastle

Elaine Beard, Co.Director, Tynemouth

Felicity Shenton, North Shields

Elizabeth Archibald, Newcastle upon Tyne

Stephanie Lai, Newcastle upon Tyne

Mel Kakkar, Gateshead

Helen Price, North Shields

Joe Holtaway, Newcastle

Richard House, Gateshead

Libby Davison, Newcastle upon Tyne

Gail Ward, Hexham

Hannah Greason, Newcastle upon Tyne

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