An estimated 6,000 refugees pack the “Jungle,” a refugee camp in pas-de-Calais for those trying to enter Britain. The camp has been active for years, and the growing refugee crisis and worsening conditions at the camp have fueled growing humanitarian efforts among private British citizens, with routine crossings into Calais to deliver aid to the refugees.
The British government has taken a dim view of the aid to Calais refugees, with some officials arguing even basic humanitarian assistance only encourages more people to queue up along the channel waiting for an admittance that may never come. Kent police are said now to be turning to anti-terrorism laws to crack down on those aid deliveries.
Several volunteers, including some associated with groups like London2Calais, have reported that they were held in multi-hour detention by the police, who cite Section 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000 as allowing them to detain people without reasonable suspicion in border areas.
The Kent Police gave the detainees written notice that they “do not have the right to remain silent” and are not under criminal investigation, but that they are being held to decide if they are terrorists or not. So far, everyone has been released after being hassled for a few hours, and police insist that the summary detentions are “normal procedure.”