Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture delegation visits Manston holding facility

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

A delegation from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has carried out a “rapid reaction visit” to the Manston processing centre.

Seven committee members made the visit, which was approved by the Home Office, from 25 to 28 November.

The CPT organises visits to places of detention to assess how persons deprived of their liberty are treated. Places visited include prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, holding centres for immigration detainees, psychiatric hospitals and social care homes.

CPT delegations have unlimited access to places of detention, and the right to move inside without restriction. They interview persons deprived of their liberty. After each visit, the CPT sends a detailed report to the State concerned.

A CPT statement on the visit to Manston and facilities in Dover says: “The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment of foreign nationals arriving by small boat in the United Kingdom after crossing the English Channel.

“The delegation visited Western Jet Foil and Manston Short-Term Holding Facility where all such persons are processed and held during the first 24 hours of their arrival in the country. The delegation also visited the Kent Intake Unit in Dover where unaccompanied and separated minors are treated upon their arrival.

“At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, Minister of State for Immigration, and Donald Smith, Director for Operations at the Clandestine Channel Threat Command (CCTC) at the Home Office.”

The CPT report has not been published as yet.

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. All those at the centre were moved out to accommodation by November 22.

The Public and Commercial Services union claimed that the rapid removal of people out of the centre came after the union, Detention Action and a woman held at the facility issued legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

At a meeting last week Thanet councillors were told the Manston processing centre was undergoing a deep clean and adjustments – which reportedly include new flooring in the marquees and additional  mattresses – while the site was empty. The Home Office has not stood down the facility.

The centre has been in the spotlight following cases of diphtheria and other illnesses, concerns over conditions and the holding of some people for up to a month.

On November 16 a letter from the Independent Monitoring Boards to the Chairs of the Home Affairs, Women and Equalities, Justice and the Joint Committee on Human Rights said Kent members had carried out monitoring visits throughout October and November.

The Kent report said the centre was not equipped to deal with people beyond the 24 hour limit and despite best efforts of staff, the sheer number of people being held at that time resulted in a “deterioration of conditions.”

The IMB recommends the Home Office:

  • Ensure that length of detention at Manston does not exceed the 24-hour limit, and therefore that there are adequate contingency plans to accommodate significant numbers of arrivals.
  • Provide those detained at Manston with information on how long they will be detained at the centre and how their claim will be processed.
  • Ensure that conditions for those detained at Manston meet basic standards of safety and decency, and in particular that arrangements safeguard the most vulnerable.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient healthcare staff on-site to screen arrivals to identify urgent healthcare needs and prevent the spread of contagious disease.
  • Work to mitigate the risk of contamination at Manston by improving cleanliness and hygiene on-site.
  • Ensure that every individual detained at Manston is provided with adequate bedding, clean clothes and means for washing.

A Home Office spokesperson told The Guardian newspaper: “We take both the welfare of those in our care and our wider public health responsibilities extremely seriously. We work closely with the NHS and UKHSA to support individuals affected by infection and limit transmission, as well as ensure information is shared in a timely way and that everyone leaving facilities such as Manston is given access to appropriate treatment.

“We have robust contingency plans to deal with health issues such as communicable diseases. The Council of Europe’s request for a visit to Manston was granted by the Home Office.”


    • It matters not.

      It is Europeans that are shunting migrants across the continent and assisting their passage to England – and then they have the audacity to come over here to check the premises we are using to house them.

      And we were stupid enough to let them do that too . . .

    • We make them too comfortable if the conditions are not to their liking they are free to leave. The migrants have everything for nothing they don’t have the worry of high bills and housing costs it’s time we got into the real world and started looking after the homeless people in our community

  1. if my life was at risk i would be very grateful for any help i was offered , or am i missing something here ?

  2. When in franch who checks their health conditions if had diphtheria why were they allowed to cross the channel illegally to spread infections in the UK probably many came with COVID it’s time we look after our own like getting housing health care that we have to wait longer must I go on i am no racist it’s common sense and we are a small island.

    • They are not crossing the Channel illegally! They are all innocent! Some may be illegally gaining access to the UK, and if they are not claiming asylum, they will be returned to their home countries, I know! I used to be an official visitor with the Dover Detainee Visitors Group, and for the most it held people who were mainly from the West Indies, Pakistan, India, China, and Nigeria, who being returned. Although one poor man I met who had been in this country, illegally for over 20 years, was from India! The problem was he had no way of proving he was from India, so the Indian government refused to accept him back!

  3. Some of those held will be asylum seekers who have previously suffered greatly. Some will be granted leave to remain and will become British citizens.
    To my mind, nobody should receive inhuman & degrading treatment. But those who will stay, who may spend their lives here contributing to the economy, becoming part of our society, raising children … surely it is highly desirable that they have good reason to feel gratitude and respect for this country that will feed into their sense of citizenship, their desire to do their utmost best here?
    I am glad this squalid set-up has been inspected.

    • As you say everyone deserves decent accommodation so why are so many British people living on the streets and in poor housing. We need to sort our own situation first. I’m sick of do Golders spouting about the rights of migrants when our tax payers are living in squalid conditions and becoming homeless

      • You have a point Sue. If it was a case of either/or I might come close to agreeing with you. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s any basis for thinking that homelessness and poor housing would improve one iota if migration suddenly came to a halt. It just don’t work that way.

  4. While they’re here, why not ask them why the rest of Europe is so foul – look at the behaviours in Brussels this week – that those in need of refuge feel it necessary to traverse an entire continent and the busiest sea lane in the World to get to it?

  5. Ensure that length of detention at Manston does not exceed the 24-hour limit, and therefore that there are adequate contingency plans to accommodate significant numbers of arrivals.

    Oh dear-it was on the news earlier that the government are looking to get people back in there & change the law to hold them for 96 hours-which will of course be weeks & months again once they think people have forgotten.

        • Trouble is, there was – and will be again once the weather improves – too many of them to cope. What should we do, build a huge processing centre the size of the airport? There is also the big issue of the 300+ hotels they’re currently using, largely in seaside resorts. OK in winter, but what happens next spring/summer? In Skegness, 5 big hotels have been taken over – with most of the staff kicked out, with very little notice. Whatever one’s thoughts on the rights and wrongs of immigration, this is naturally causing HUGE ill feeling there, and in similar towns across the country too. Interestingly, even BBC news covered it the other night.

  6. It must be torture climbing into a flimsy rubber boat with loads of others to know you are about to cross one of the most dangerous channels in the world and others before you in the past have not made it, not only that but you have actually paid some dodgy geezer to let you do it who could not careless if you make it to the other side or not. This committee want to look at the beginning of the trip not the place of reception.

  7. Can someone please tell me why these so called asylum seekers that want to claim asylum aren’t doing it in the countries that they are going through to escape war etc? Not being daft but only countries at war I believe are Russia and Ukraine? Why go through so many safe countries to get to France then cross the water to here? What’s so fascinating about the uk????

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