Legal action has been brought against the Home Office due to ‘serious threats’ to the safety of children and ‘concern for the welfare of thousands of people’ at the Manston asylum processing centre.
This claim comes after concerning revelations of poor conditions and overcrowding at Manston, issues raised by an inspection report in July.
Whilst the home secretary, Suella Braverman, was touring the site in Kent on Thursday, it was revealed that a letter has been sent on behalf of a woman held at Manston in ‘egregiously defective conditions’.
Detention Action, a charity involved in the legal action, have alleged:
- ‘Routine and prolonged unlawful detention in the facility’
- ‘A failure to implement “essential safeguarding measures” for children’
- ‘Adult men sleeping alongside women and children they are not related to’
- ‘Migrants exposed to infectious diseases amid poor sanitation’
- ‘No means for the detainees to get legal advice about why they are being held’
The director of the charity, Jamie Wilson, said, ‘We are calling on the home secretary to declare that anyone held at Manston for more than 24 hours is being detained unlawfully.’
The home secretary will have to ‘address the allegations’, otherwise ‘judges will be asked to hear the case in full’. The Home Office has confirmed it will ‘respond to the claim but would not comment publicly’.
On Thursday, a young girl threw a note in a bottle over the fence as a plea for help. She wrote that the centre is like a ‘prison’ and the food is making them sick. ‘We are in a difficult life now’, it reads, ‘We need your help.’ It also said that‘they don’t do anything’ for detained pregnant women, sparking concerns from campaigners about their lack of access to healthcare.
Asylum seekers are supposed to stay at Manston for a maximum of 24 hours before going to other accommodation. However, the letter reveals that 50 families have been kept there for 30 days. ‘Up to 4,000’ people have been held at the site which is supposed to have a maximum of ‘1,600’.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, responded to concerns in an interview with Sky News, confirming they have received ‘initial contact for a judicial review’ due to the overcrowding. He said that numbers have ‘fallen very substantially’ since they learned of the issues.
Meanwhile, there are reports of asylum seekers from Manston being ‘stranded’ in central London. On Tuesday, 11 asylum seekers were left at Victoria railway station without accommodation, warm clothing or money. Charity volunteers said they were ‘stressed, disturbed and completely disoriented’. On Saturday, a witness said about 50 asylum seekers were left at Victoria coach station in a similar situation and ‘hadn’t even been told where they were’.
Tensions have been building as a result of the events this week, with reports of protests outside the immigration centre and calls for the site to be ‘shut down’.