EXCLUSIVE: The Home Office was warned about Manston months ago
An inspection in July highlighted the condition of unaccompanied children who had been held for more than 24 hours, even before current problems with overcrowding.
A report released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in late July raised concerns about unaccompanied people and children in particular who are held for more than 24 hours in the facility.
A source in the inspectorate confirmed that the employees of the Ministry of Interior at the site are aware of any results from the visit before the inspectors finish the visit, while a full copy of the report is sent to the Ministry of Interior eight weeks after the visit.
This means that the inspection body warned staff on site in Manston more than three months ago about the issue of extended stays, while the Home Office leadership was informed of the problems by about the third week of September. Although the inspection took place when Priti Patel was Home Secretary, the report could have been sent to the Home Office during Suila Braverman’s first term in that position.
What did the HMIP test find in Manston?
HMIP conducted a surprise inspection of Manston between 25 and 28 July and raised a number of serious concerns based on the findings.
In July, the Inspectorate found that “exhausted detainees are regularly held for more than 24 hours,” and that the average length of detention for unaccompanied children was 27 hours, with one child during their visit being held for 48 hours.
They also noted that these time ranges were likely to underestimate the true length of detention periods, as the total length of detention throughout the process was not recorded.
While ministers have presented cases with people detained after the legal time limit in Manston as a recent problem that has emerged in the past few weeks, the report notes that ministers have been aware of the problem for months.
The report notes that Home Office data showed that in the three months to June 2022, 4,161 people passed through Manston and 636 were detained for more than 24 hours. While current reports indicate that some people were held there for weeks, the inspectorate at the time noted that the longest period of detention in Manston was “more than 70 hours,” adding that this was “unacceptable for a non-residential facility.”
Noting that people often do not have access to phones, which would enable them to obtain legal support, the inspectorate said it was “especially disappointing once again to see exhausted detainees forced to sleep on mats between rows or on benches.” wooden”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We welcome the report’s finding that there have been significant improvements in the infrastructure and processes in place to accommodate record numbers of people arriving in the UK illegally by small boat.
“As a result of these numbers, our asylum system has come under incredible pressure, but we recognize that more needs to be done to provide alternative accommodation for people arriving in the UK. We continue to work hard to resolve the current pressures in Manston as an urgent priority.
“Manston remains resourced and equipped to handle immigrants safely, and we will provide alternative accommodations as soon as possible.”
Suella Braverman made a very bad decision
Conservative MP Sir Roger Gill, who has visited Manston in recent days, alleged that overcrowding had been “deliberately” allowed by the Home Office, telling NationalWorld: “He let this happen because the Home Secretary made a very bad decision not to book hotels for immigrants. To be transferred to her despite the advice she received five weeks ago.” He insisted the facility was “working well” before.
Critics said Braverman and her predecessor Patel failed to book hotel accommodations for immigrants to move into after processing, a failure that Sir Roger told the NationalWorld was “utterly unfortunate”. “Anyone responsible, whether former Home Secretary (Priti Patel) or this one, should be held accountable,” he said.
Braverman was also accused of failing to act on legal advice that stated that the length of time people were being held in Manston was illegal, according to the Sunday Times.
Recent reports indicate that people – including children – have been there for weeks, while the inspection body’s report indicates that the problem has escalated rapidly in recent months, raising questions about why more has not been done to tackle the problem sooner.
Commenting on current processing speeds, Sir Roger Gill told NationalWorld that they are “too slow, it’s ridiculous”.
A Home Office spokesperson said in response to the allegations against Braverman: “The Home Secretary has taken urgent decisions to alleviate the problems in Manston and provide alternative accommodations. Advice for the intentionally ignored claims is completely unfounded.”