Manston, a holding facility for asylum seekers, remains overcrowded due to the Home Office’s lack of hotel provision for detainees. With increasing arrivals, detainees have been subjected to longer stays at the facility than intended, which has led to difficulties in management.
At the last HM Inspectorate of Prisons inspection in the summer of 2022, officials identified leadership as a main problem within Manston. Due to insufficient organisation and allocation of services, lack of coordination between the agencies and their roles has become an issue.
The Home Office had on record the overall amount of small boat arrival referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). However, these referrals were unable to be divided into type, whether by adult or child, along with the referral’s location. Therefore, 91 vulnerable adult warning forms were handled by Mitie personnel, which only equated to .5% of the overall migrants moving through the facility. The inspectorate found that no other agencies in charge of vulnerable detainee supervision provided adequate plans for proper support. As a result, at risk migrants could easily be overlooked and neglected.
The Mitie staff appeared distracted and disengaged with the migrants, instead talking amongst themselves behind the desk. Disregard for the migrants intended to receive Mitie’s care was evident. Detainees were having difficulty getting their problems resolved, lacking the information needed to settle their issues. In addition, they lacked faith in the prospect that their welfare obstructions were being handled in the appropriate fashion.
The inspectorate also found violent incidents were inadequately recorded at Manston. No data was provided as to when these incidents have occurred, when force needed to be used, or if the occurrence happened under justifiable circumstances. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor raised his concern for the vulnerability of families and children in the length of time spent at the facility, along with the increased risk of the spread of infectious diseases and disorderly conduct when migrant numbers heighten. Chief Taylor recommended the Home Office allocate sufficient accommodation and staff so that detainees can pass through the facility as quickly as possible.
Medical confidentiality was not taken into consideration, with custody officers disregarding respect for detainees by openly discussing private medical information and records. Neighboring detention facilities, Kent Holding Unit and Jet Foil also failed to provide safe medical isolation management with poor conditions not fit for use. At all three sites, detainees’ ability to contact family or any party outside the facilities was hindered and restricted. Migrants were not updated on the steps to move forward, resulting in uncertainty on where they were going next.