AN inspector has warned that boredom could affect the mental health of asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield, which could lead to “violence”.

David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, visited the former military site in December 2023 and wrote to the Home Secretary and Braintree MP James Cleverly  with his concerns.

Mr Neal then wrote to Legal Migration Minister Tom Pursglove on February 9, saying he had found “no improvement” on his latest visit.

Mr Neal said: “There were 555 service users at Wethersfield yesterday, all of whom face uncertainty and boredom while lacking constructive outlets for their energies.

“I spoke to a number of men, and it was clear to me that there was an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness caused by boredom, which invariably, in my experience, leads to violence.”

Mr Neal also said a “lack of purposeful activity” at the asylum centre “was likely to have a deleterious impact on the residents’ mental health”, increasing the risk of disorder.

Saffron Walden Reporter: David Neal - Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and ImmigrationDavid Neal - Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (Image: UK Government)

A Home Office spokesman said: “We take the safety and welfare of asylum seekers at Wethersfield extremely seriously and we will increase occupancy of the site while prioritising welfare and integration.

“Wethersfield is designed to provide adequate and functional accommodation for male asylum seekers and is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, helping to minimise the impact on local communities and services.

The Home Office spokesman said the asylum centre provides “communal, spaces, faith and worship facilities, and a large gymnasium”, as well as access to medical support, mental health support, and a 24/7 helpline provided by Migrant Help.

The government’s latest information says the site will continue to accommodate single adult male asylum seekers between 18-65 and that in three years, with its existing refurbished buildings and modular accommodation blocks, it could support up to 1,700 asylum seekers.

The Government currently provides funding for £3,500 to local authorities for each new occupied bed across the country, which was extended to Braintree Council for the Wethersfield site.