Channel migrants are being held for up to a week in a processing center because it is ‘struggling’ to cope with the influx of people
- Union says facilities are inadequate, food and water shortages and ‘tensions’ growing
- Facility located in the former Fire Defense Training and Development Center in Thanet
- Aim to keep people on site for just 24-48 hours ‘purely ambitious’
- Instead, migrants and asylum seekers tend to stay for up to a week, POA says
Channel migrants are being held for up to a week at a new processing center which is “struggling” to cope with the influx of people, a union which represents Border Force officers has warned.
The POA union said facilities at the Kent site are inadequate, pointing to rising ‘tensions’ which have already seen police called and the facility run out of food and water.
Local force confirmed officers were called on September 28 following a report of a small group of violent people, and on October 2 after a man threw a bottle.
A man was taken to hospital as a precaution on the occasion and a suspect was arrested on suspicion of assault, later being released on bail while investigations continue.
Opened by the Home Office in January 2022, Manston Short Term Immigration Detention Center is located in the former Fire Defense Training and Development Center in Thanet.
The union says the large number of people arriving in September means the goal of detaining people at the Manston site for 24 to 48 hours is “purely ambitious”, with people staying at the facility for up to a week.
Government figures show 7,961 people arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel in September.
The POA union said facilities at the Kent site were inadequate, pointing to rising “tensions” which have already seen police called and the facility run out of food and water.
Government figures show 7,961 people arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in September
Opened by the Home Office in January 2022, Manston Short Term Immigration Detention Center is located in the former Defense Fire Training and Development Center in Thanet
POA say the facility is a “significant improvement” to the Tug Haven processing site at the Port of Dover, but they say the Manston facility is struggling to play its role and tensions are rising.
A POA spokesperson said: “A member working at the site likened the situation to a pressure cooker coming to a boil with a blocked release valve.
“She described the ability to move people from site in a timely manner as this pressure relief valve.
“We have had reports of incidents escalating, with altercations between residents overflowing and resulting in injuries, with police to be called to the site to investigate the assaults and provide support to staff.
“The POA believe that the failure to relieve this pressure is at the highest level, with a government that has failed to provide a coherent response at the rate of the increase in the number of migrants crossing the Channel and the pressure that s exercises on the installation.
“There were days when the facility ran out of food and drinking water for residents.
“The marquees are overcrowded, bedding levels on site have become inadequate, laundry facilities are inadequate, cleaning regimes are not adhered to and concerns have been raised about high levels of condensation in the marquees, which led to the growth of mold and bacteria.
“We will write today to Charlie Taylor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, and urge his Inspectorate to attend and assess developments.”
Kent Police have confirmed they have been called to the Immigration Center twice in the past two weeks.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: ‘We attended a site in Manston Road, Manston at around 11.55pm on September 28 to assist the Home Office following a report that a small group of people was violent. No arrests were made.
“Kent Police attended a site in Manston Road, Manston at 8.10pm on October 2 to assist the Home Office following a report that a man threw a plastic bottle at another man.
“A suspect has been arrested on suspicion of assault and has subsequently been released on bail while investigations continue.”
The Home Office has also been contacted for comment.