Manston centre to be surveyed as part of ‘rapid construction’ proposal to ‘scale up detention capacity’

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

Manston processing centre is one of three sites where survey work will be carried out as part of proposals for ‘rapid construction’ at immigration premises.

The Home Office has agreed a £1.1million contract with UK construction firm Laing O’Rourke which was one of four firms appointed by the Ministry of Justice in 2021 for a £1billion New Prisons Programme.

That programme was to build four new adult male prisons across the UK – creating over 6,000 new, prison places.

The firm has also worked on projects ranging from the Northern Line extension to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

The Home Office project is for “Design Services for a detained accommodation solution for the Home Office.”

Manston processing centre Photo Swift Aerial Photography

As part of the contract site surveys will be carried out at  Bexhill-on-Sea at a disused prison and training centre proposed for asylum accommodation, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and Manston (processing centre) sites “to carry out a visual inspection, identifying any immediate obvious construction / logistics challenges and opportunities.”

Laing is also asked to “Produce preliminary overlays of Immigration Removal Centres onto a drawing for each site, identifying a) number of buildings, b) number of storeys and c) approximate total sq. footage for the Immigration Removal Centre.”

The contract, categorised as “Prison building construction” and “services related to the detention or rehabilitation of criminals” started in July and is due to finish in October.

The brief specifies consulting “with Home Office to ascertain the requirements for Males, Females and Family detainees including site visits and attendance at meetings.”

The contract coincides with work to demolish and redevelop 10 buildings at the former MoD site.

Manston is not currently a removal centre. Its purpose is as a short term processing centre for security checks.

Photo Louis McLaren

Last October and November the centre became overwhelmed with some 4,000 people. It is designed to hold between 1,000 and 1,500 people. People were facing significantly longer periods in the centre due to the high numbers making small boat crossings. Issues included reported cases of diphtheria, scabies and norovirus.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to the removal of foreign criminals and those with no right to be in the UK.

“Immigration removal centres play a vital role in controlling our borders and we have been finding further solutions to scale up our detention capacity.”

The Home Office says new detention sites under the contract are not yet confirmed and Manston currently continues to operate as a short term processing facility.

Last week the government said: “The introduction of new asylum accommodation large sites will look to provide safe, suitable, and more cost-effective accommodation for asylum seekers. In doing so, they will help to end the government’s use of hotels to accommodate migrants who have entered the UK illegally..

“The sharp increase in crossings means about 49,000 destitute migrants are currently being accommodated in hotels, additionally nearly 10,000 individuals in hotels under the Afghan resettlement schemes – costing the taxpayer almost £6 million a day.

“This severe pressure on the system means claims from genuine asylum seekers are taking too long to process and is taking away from resources to support people through safe and legal routes to the UK.”


    • The DCO is for a freight hub. RSP have stated that they would only introduce passenger flights after the freight operation ‘proves to be successful’. So some years off before the possibility of any outgoing passenger flights from Manston.

    • You disgust me Sparky! I have just made a significant donation to Care4Calais, and have started a monthly Direct Debit for these poor people. In my national newspaper dated 10th August, there is a Home Office report that “Turks were the second most common nationality among the small boat arrivals, 2nd only to Afghans”. It went on to explain the government does not have an agreement to return Turkish people to Turkey, and of course Afghans have evry right to obtain asylum seeker status here.

  1. The anti-airport mob might regret their campaign once a huge migrant camp is built there. Some great job opportunties though!

    • Indeed.

      I am sure that building a new prison (or detention centre, or rehabilitation centre, or whatever whatever other euphemism you wish to use) on Manston will create more job opportunities than re-opening the airport.

      As you say, let’s hope that all those who campaigned so long and so hard to avoid having an airport are now happy with the resultant outcome of their efforts.

      Similarly, all those who have taken part in the ”asylum seekers welcome here” campaigns will be pleased that further facilities will now be made available to house them.

        • I did suggest that we send them to Wales, but apparently that is “racist” (???). Not that I’d want beautiful Llandadno ruined.

          • LLandudno already hosts quite a few asylum seekers. You’d know this if you knew the reality of which you were opining on.

        • “Because cargo is of more use to us”

          You know who else referred to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers as “useless” eaters? I’ll give you three guesses…

          • So, you’d prefer a migrant camp just outside Ramsgate? I suspect you’ll quickly notice a drop in tourists (as well as house prices) when there are 100’s of bored working-age males wandering the streets. That said, if I was young and unemployed I’d jump at the chance of working at one of these camps. Wouldn’t you?

        • Shhh Ms Pink! M.M.REES, AKA, ‘THE ANAESTHETIST’ is a bit irritable when people mention an airport as she doesn’t agree with them… or planes. Or cars, or motorcycles. Or… come to think of it, she doesn’t agree with most things! So it’s only right we all come together and conform to what she wants the world to be. Its only fair! No one likes a grumpy Anaesthetist now
          Do they!?

          • I agree with people who don’t want a new airport near Ramsgate. I agree with people who think there should be far fewer private cars and much better public transport. And I agree with people who think we should treat refugees and asylum seekers humanely.

  2. Two years ago, the French government offered to supply a large facility just over the Channel where asylum seekers could begin the assessments of their claims. Staffed by UzK Border Agency staff. That way, nobody needed to risk an open -boat crossing.
    The British government turned down the offer!
    Meanwhile, it was admitted in Parliament that only 4% of asylum applications are completed within a year.
    It’s almost as if the current government WANTS people to risk crossing in open boats and that they wait around here for ages waiting for a decision.
    Which gives the government a cause they can support a problem they can use to whip up hatred with, in the hope that aggressive hostility towards refugees will be so high by the next election that they will get elected again.
    The last thing they want is a sensible, achievable solution.

    • And do you REALLY think those rejected in an overseas facility would just turn around and go home or settle elsewhere in Europe? No, they’d get in boats!

      • Hey Ms Pink, you can say you’re too daft to understand Keefogs well thought out points regarding political power projection and the rise of useful idiots who support it.

        Have you ever considered the reason they rejected French gov proposals for processing centres is because it allows them to use a manufactured crisis to keep their base of useful idiots riled up and distracted from their domestic policy failings?

        They get in boats NOW, because there are NO SAFE ROUTES for them to claim asylum. Something a processing centre in Calais would aid in solving.

        Here’s a question for you.

        In Labour last year in power, they deported around 68,000 people found to be in the country illegally. Now, with hand on heart honesty, how many have the Tories managed in THIRTEEN YEARS of power?

        • “No safe routes”? I’ve just come back from a long weekend in Nprmandy, and it felt far safer than the main Thanet towns to me. Perhaps the UK and France could set up an exchange, i.e. we accept migrants and they house, clothe, feed and finance volunteer Brits? I’d be up for it!

          • Quot’s been pressed. Look at the clown trying to belittle someone for a blatant typo.
            It’s ok when they’re toxic. No one else is allowed to be though.

            I’m also hoping your attempt of bullying by saying, “do ‘us’ all a favour” doesn’t actually mean you assume all of us agree with you in that statement.

            Perhaps I’ll speak to the Admin..

          • Can’t afford it! Otherwise I’d jump at the chance to live in a country that has clean and pothole-free streets, great food yet relatively few obese, cycle lanes with their own traffic lights, a language that sounds like poetry no matter what is said, and people that make an effort to dress up when going to restaurants. It really is the cultural centre of the world… which is probably why so many less-cultured people by-pass it to come to here.

    • I’d hazard a guess that if those turning up here had their identity papers and supporting documentation to nack up their claims the time to process would be much faster, i’d also hazard a guess that far more would be rejected. Given it can take a month for tdc to answer basic queries is it suprising that checking into the back story of an asylum seeker with little hard evidence to support their claim takes considerably longer.

      • You do realise BF and the home office have international cooperation agreements in place, so that when the arrivals are photographed, they can be checked against all international criminal databases and ID card databases too?

        TDC have small amounts, often one member, of staff to deal with basic queries for each department. If it takes month, its because your email is answered on a ticketed number system as it comes in. It takes time for them to respond to you because of THAT. Now, compare that with dedicated home office teams of investigative officers.

        The reason claims take so long to process, is the fault of the gov and the gov alone, dragging their feet to maximise their political power out of the situation. All the while people are distracted by small boats and claims backlogs (articifically inflated due to poor policy), they’re not focusing on the cost of living, inflation, fuel duty, food prices, ppe fraud and ministers links to foreign nationals who seek to subvert democracy via cash for access (See russian financing of Tory party coffers and who said donors are linked to through business/family)…

    • Why does Peter Checksfield/ Ms Pink think sending refugees and asylum seekers to Wales is “just plain evil”?

      I am Welsh, and I strongly disapprove of – and find offensive- Checksfield’s comments about Wales. He does not post this kind of thing about other Celtic nations.

      • Is “Ms Pink” really that Checksfield bloke? If so the reason him (and his alter-ego) write such offensive stuff is that they seem to live for trolling others. I suppose using a nom de plume is part of this.

  3. While it’s lovely to witness such good hearted exchanges I did wonder about the article where it says nearly £6 million a day on 10,000 people in an Afghan Resettlement scheme. I make that £219,000 per person each year.
    Assuming some of the 10K people are families or partners just imagine the homes that could pay for, refurbished or new-builds in one year!
    Second year could pay for education, training and/or start up funding.
    It would be really interesting to see a journalist interview some of these or a Uni to survey all of them to see what they would want.
    Any government could resolve this within a single parliamentary term. Just imagine having this to restart your life?

  4. I was a member of the Dover Detainee Visitor Group many years ago, where people being deported were held in a garrison built for French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic wars. It is a formidable building, with a dry moat, and British Prison Officers, mostly white. I did worry a bit if the people being deported might take us hostage, as many of them were facing certain death when they returned to their home countries.

    The prison population were mainly West Indians, Pakistan’s, Indians, Chinese, and a few from some of the African & Arab states, note there were NO people being deported from the EU! At that time the UK was a member of the EU and anyone who was not a national from an EU state, and claiming asylum could be returned to the first safe EU country they had arrived at.

    That all stopped once we left the EU, and the people traffica’s know this! Its the biggest draw factor for asylum seekers, because they know they can’t be returned to the first safe EU country they arrived at, like Greece, Italy, Malta, France, Spain, Ireland! So, the best solution to stop the boat people coming here is to re-join the EU!

    • There have been so many reasons for not having left in the first place, I thought they were all accounted for! Thanks for supplying yet more evidence for why a sane government would never have done this.

        • They should never have left their homes in the first place.
          Until the reasons that drive people to abandon everything and make a long, hazardous and expensive journey half way round the world to an alien culture are resolved, this will never stop.
          I cannot begin to imagine a situation that would drive me to abandon my home, job, and family, and set off to seek asylum in North Korea or China, for example.

          • I will stand corrected Phyllis, but wasn’t the Mayor of Broadstairs an asylum seeker once, because he was told to drive a car bomb into some people, or his family would be killed? Thats a very good reason to leave your home country isn’t it?

          • One driver for mass migration will be the consequences of Climate Change.
            As the Earth heats up, regions such as southern Spain, France, Italy, Greece and so on, will become more and more like the Sahara. Vast numbers of people will want to move to northern Europe where, for the time being at least, the situation will be more bearable.

          • What’s so bad about France, Germany, Holland and Italy? People who put their kids into boats to leave these SAFE countries are worse than animals.

    • “built for French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic wars”

      As strange rewrite of history, it was barracks for English soldiers NEVER for French Prisoners !

  5. Dumpton: yes it is.
    But my point is that these political, religious and martial pressuers should not be happening in the first place. Folk would be content with their lot.

  6. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to leave a comparatively safe and peaceful country like Britain. Apropos refugees and asylum seekers, conditions in their countries should not have become so terrible that they needed to leave their homes. But they did become that bad, and have probably been doing so for many years

Comments are closed.