The Manston processing centre is currently empty with people seeking asylum who were held at the site being found accommodation.
The centre was designed to process up to 1,600 people over a 24/48 hour period.
However, a high number of small boat Channel crossings this Autumn and a firebomb attack at the Dover Home Office facility which necessitated the move of 700 people saw numbers at Manston soar to 4,000.
The centre has been in the spotlight following cases of diphtheria and other illnesses, concerns over conditions, the holding of some people for up to a month and issues with the need for instances of ‘use of force interventions.’
On November 19 the Home Office confirmed a person who was at the Manston asylum processing centre had died in hospital. It is understood the death was not caused by infectious disease. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is investigating the death and the case has been referred to the Kent coroner.
Yesterday the government said the number of people at the centre was down to just 300.
The Guardian first reported the news today (November 22) that the Manston site has been vacated for now. This follows a lull in small boat crossings due to poor weather conditions.
The Home Office has confirmed that no-one is currently accommodated at the Manston centre.
A Government spokesperson said: ‘’Staff across the Home Office have worked tirelessly under challenging circumstances to source alternative accommodation as quickly as possible for those who have been processed at Manston.
“Thanks to their efforts, there are currently no people being accommodated on-site, and improvements continue to be made to the site to ensure it remains well-resourced to process migrants safely and securely.
‘’The global migration crisis continues to place an unprecedented and unsustainable strain on our asylum system, which is why we remain focussed on deterring illegal migration and disrupting the criminal gangs responsible for these dangerous crossings.”
Clearsprings Ready Homes is the company contracted to find and operate accommodation in the south of England and in Wales for people awaiting asylum claims – which included the most recent procurement of student rooms at the former Broadstairs uni campus although this was vacated just two days later.
Clearsprings has two Home Office contracts. The value of these is £662 million for operations in the South and £334 million for Wales totalling £996 million for the 10 year period.
The Telegraph reports that Ministers are now drawing up plans to transfer thousands of people from hotels to disused student accommodation, redundant military bases or outdated and unused holiday camps.
The Public and Commercial Services union has claimed that the rapid removal of people out of Manston processing centre came after the union, , Detention Action and a woman held at the facility issued legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
The complaint against the Home Secretary contends the woman was detained:
- in excess of statutory time limits;
- in overcrowded, unhygienic and unsafe conditions that constitute inhuman or degrading treatment;
- beyond the legal powers of the home secretary;
- contrary to the government’s published detention policy;
- in violation of the right not to be detained arbitrarily;
- in inadequate conditions with a lack of privacy, where she was denied telephone access to family members and lawyers.
PCS head of bargaining Paul O’Connor said: “The conditions at Manston that refugees and our members have had to endure recently have been a disgrace. We’re pleased the Home Secretary has been forced to respond to our concerns but we shouldn’t have needed to resort to the threat of legal action before they were addressed.
“The government’s entire approach on asylum is a failure. Our members need the time, space and resources to deliver a functioning system free from the type of crisis management we see all too often.
“It’s time to design a system based on a rational assessment of need and for the Home Secretary to drop her increasingly irrational rhetoric on the issue.”
Thanet councillors will discuss the issue of the Manston asylum processing centre at a meeting this week. The issue has been added to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel agenda for November 24.