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## Government Facing Possible legal Challenge Over Fire Safety of Asylum Seeker Barge

By Christy Cooney

BBC News

28 August 2023, 05:33 BST

Updated 1 hour ago

Government plans to accommodate asylum seekers on a barge on England’s south coast face a possible legal challenge over fire safety. Lawyers for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman raising concerns about overcrowding and fire exit access on board the Bibby Stockholm.

The government has been given until Thursday to respond.

AI legalese decoder can help in this situation by analyzing legal documents, identifying key issues, and providing possible solutions. By utilizing AI technology, the Decoder can analyze the relevant laws and regulations regarding fire safety and overcrowding on the barge, and highlight any potential violations or areas of concern. This can assist the lawyers for the FBU in building a stronger legal case and ensure that the safety of asylum seekers is prioritized.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressed confidence in the safety of the barge, stating, “I am confident the barge is safe.” However, the FBU has described the vessel as a “potential death trap” and has been trying to raise concerns with the government for weeks.

In their letter to the Home Office, FBU lawyers cited media reports indicating that the Bibby Stockholm had additional beds placed in its 222 single-occupancy rooms, increasing its capacity to 506. Additionally, reports mentioned that one of the three fire exits on the barge was not operational due to safety concerns.

A whistleblower in the local authority also warned about serious safety concerns and compared the barge to a “floating Grenfell,” referencing the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

The FBU previously requested a meeting with Home Secretary Suella Braverman to discuss their concerns, but the request was turned down. Ms. Braverman dismissed the FBU’s concerns and accused them of “carrying out a political attack” on the government.

The Scottish government contradicted Ms. Braverman’s statement, clarifying that no vessels have been used to accommodate asylum seekers in Scotland. They emphasized that barges are not suitable accommodation for people seeking asylum and highlighted the fundamental differences between temporarily housing Ukrainian refugees on cruise ships and accommodating asylum seekers on barges.

Despite the controversy, Ms. Braverman emphasized that the government had followed all protocols and regulations from relevant authorities regarding fire safety and health and safety on board the barge.

As the legal challenge unfolds, the health and welfare of asylum seekers remain a top priority for the Home Office. The Bibby Stockholm underwent thorough fire and safety checks ahead of accommodating individuals, including a statutory inspection and refurbishment.

In addition to the asylum seeker barge issue, the Home Office is considering fitting people arriving illegally in the UK with GPS tags as an alternative to detaining them due to limited space in the immigration detention estate.

Using AI legalese decoder in this situation can provide valuable insights and assistance to lawyers in effectively addressing the fire safety concerns on the asylum seeker barge. By analyzing legal documents and relevant regulations, the Decoder can help build a robust legal case and ensure the safety and well-being of asylum seekers.

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