Immigration Minister defends removal of children’s murals at Manston holding centre

Family unit at Manston Photo HM Inspectorate of Prisons

Children’s murals on the walls of the Manston processing centre have been painted over after the Immigration Minister deemed they were not ‘age appropriate’ for those passing through the site.

The cheery pictures, which were praised in a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons published last month, were removed on July 4.

The i Newspaper first revealed Disney characters at the Kent Intake Unit at Dover had been painted out but it has now been confirmed that images at Manston have also been removed.

Robert Jenrick

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told MPs yesterday: “We provide very high-quality facilities for families and children upon immediate arrival in the UK. I have made it a particular focus to ensure that we support those individuals appropriately, ensuring that conditions in those places are decent and compassionate at all times.

“The cohort of unaccompanied children who passed through the location… last year was largely teenagers. We did not feel that the site was age-appropriate, but it contains a range of support for children and infants, including all the things that he has described.

“Nothing about the decoration of sites changes the fundamentals: if someone comes to the United Kingdom, we will treat them with decency and compassion at all times.”

Manston search area Photo HM Inspectorate of Prisons

However, Manston has facilities for toddlers and mothers with babies and pre-teen children have been among those held at the site.

The inspection report in June noted that during the six months prior to the inspection, which was carried out between 30 January – 17 February, 17,562 detainees had been held in Manston, including 1,257 children and, of those, 26 who were unaccompanied. They were held for an average of 40 hours 43 minutes.

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

The average recorded time of detention for children travelling in family groups was two days 11 hours although 232 children had been held for more than 96 hours and the longest time of detention for a child was more than 19 days.

Unaccompanied children were held for an average of 21 hours 44 minutes. The report noted families with children were prioritised at Manston, but processing remained slow at busy times and inspectors observed some families with very young children waiting for several hours to be progressed into the family marquee, which they highlighted as being “in good condition.”

SNP MP Peter Wishart called the removal of the paintings “grotesque.”

Prison Officers Association assistant general secretary Andy Baxter said: “The Murals have been painted over.

“I am told the immigration minister thought they were not appropriate for a place of detention.”

Hindpal Singh Bhui, Inspection Team Leader for Immigration at HMI Prisons said: “We expect that immigration detainees of all ages should be held in non-punitive and non-carceral environments, and should be received into a welcoming and supportive reception environment.

“Our report on KIU, published in June, noted that in the six months preceding our inspection more than 2,400 unaccompanied children had been detained at KIU, although children should only be detained as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time. The best interests of the child must be the primary consideration in all actions concerning children.”

Manston (Image SOAS)

‘Ensure children are safe’

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do all we can to ensure children are safe, secure and supported as we urgently seek placements with a local authority. All children receive a welfare interview on their arrival at accommodation, which includes questions designed to identify potential indicators of trafficking or safeguarding issues.

“Our priority is to stop the boats and disrupt the people smugglers. The government has gone further by introducing legislation which will ensure that those people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.”

The Home Office says that while the murals have been removed, other features at the facility include larger and softer interview rooms, an outside space, prayer rooms, a larger reception area and improved security measures to ensure children’s safety.


A fundraiser to buy Disney themed toys for unaccompanied asylum seeker children at Dover’s KIU has been launched by Labour Briefing contributor David Osler. The appeal has so far raised just over £3,000. Any money ot used for the toys will go to charities including Care 4 Calais.

Find it here 

Concerns raised – and improvements noted – during latest inspection of Manston holding centre


  1. Sadistic & just thoroughly evil. But people knew the Tory culture when they voted for these narcissistic, hedonistic, cruel, arrogant deviants. What a way to treat little kids! Humanity bypass

  2. Perhaps he would deem photos of his fellow ministers (or ex ministers) in their various sexual exploits more appropriate ! What a nasty thing to do order removal of welcoming cartoon figures and it shows, in spite of the words, how this lot really feel.

  3. Well i can only say it’s refreshing to know that there are so few problems in this world that we need to worry about cartoons in a childrens playroom.

  4. its high time we started looking after our own people , instead of worrying about these economic migrants , time to wake up we all know the truth. why keep denying it

    • Sure it’s been said before but here goes:
      “They’re here because we were there”.
      But, to meet your point, there is plenty of resources and room in the UK to take migrants/refugees, etc. Our goverment, and many before it, make choices to underfund support and at the same time encourage divisive views that societies problems are due to these people coming “over here with their foreign/dangerous ways”.
      Real World should get real!

      • Spot on Jenny. This whole saga is a massive diversion tactic by the tory party. “Look at all those nasty people affecting my cost of living and putting up my mortgage costs” … that’s what they want you to believe and the likes of ‘real world’ bought it hook line and sinker.
        Last year, so called illegal immigrants represented 0.062% of our population. This lot of right wing nutters have the morals of a banana republic and have been and still are being led by Boris freaks. Don’t forget this when it comes to a general election, we are far better than this.

Comments are closed.