By Charlie Crabb

On the afternoon of 8th April, out on my daily walk with my partner in Hastings Country Park, we were approached by two policemen. They asked us if we had seen anyone hiding in the bushes, as there had been a landing of, to use their term, ‘illegals’. A boat had been found along with half of its human cargo, and a search was now on for those who had escaped inland. 

About half an hour later, as we were making our way home on Barley Lane, we came upon a large roadblock, with at least ten Sussex Police and Home Office vans blocking off the road to other vehicles. There must have been around 50 officers altogether on the site. We were surprised at this number, gathered in a small area despite the coronavirus guidelines, none wearing (as far as we could see) protective gear such as gloves or masks; we were also concerned for the welfare of the migrants who had been detained. 

The jovial and light-hearted atmosphere amongst the officers was particularly shocking. When we asked one of the immigration enforcement officers if it was okay to walk on through, he replied: “Yeah, you should be fine down there as long as you haven’t got a funny accent”. 

We continued along Barley Lane, and saw three migrants who had been detained. They looked young, they weren’t wearing shoes, and one of them appeared injured. It was a very distressing sight. On the basis of the language used and the general attitude shown by the officers, I seriously doubt their commitment to the wellbeing of these vulnerable people, especially at this time of crisis.

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