A Conservative MP has attacked the government for ‘a breach of humane conditions’ at Manston, a processing centre for asylum seekers.
In an interview on the BBC’s Today programme, Sir Roger Gale, who represents the Kent constituency where Manston is located, said he suspected that the Home Office had taken a deliberate decision to allow overcrowding as a deterrent to would-be asylum seekers. Cases of diphtheria, scabies and MRSA have all been reported at the hugely overcrowded centre, which is thought to be housing 3000 refugees instead of the 1600 for which it is intended.
Asylum applicants are supposed to be held at the centre for no more than 24 hours before receiving alternative accommodation, but there are reports that some have been detained for several weeks.
Speaking to Sky News, the government minister Mark Spencer, agreed that the Home Office Minister, Suella Braverman, had blocked the housing of asylum seekers at Manston in hotels because she wanted to ‘process them quickly’.
According to a Sunday Times report, Braverman has ignored legal warnings that the Home Office was breaking UK law by detaining migrants for unlawful periods.
The situation is now worsening, as around 700 further people have been transferred to Manston from the Border Force site at Dover, after it was petrol-bombed on Sunday.
Last week, David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, told a parliamentary select committee meeting that he had been left ‘speechless’ by the ‘wretched conditions’ at Manston. On a recent visit, he had discovered that detainees were partly being guarded by private security staff who lack specialist training. He had also spoken to an Afghan family who had spent 32 days living in a marquee on the Manston site,, and two families from Iraq and Syria who had lived in tents for two weeks, sleeping on mats with blankets.