Manston migrant centre: Where is it and what are the problems it is facing?

Manston is supposed to be a short-term holding facility  (PA Wire)
Manston is supposed to be a short-term holding facility (PA Wire)

There are concerns that the Manston immigration centre is housing migrants in “a breach of humane conditions” amid overcrowding.

Around 700 migrants were moved to the Manston centre following a petrol bomb attack on another such venue in Dover.

The immigration minister Robert Jenrick said on Tuesday he had been left “speechless” by the safety problems at the overcrowded site, which had recently suffered from outbreaks of diphtheria and scabies.

Find out below what the Manston immigration centre is and why it’s facing these issues.

What is the centre?

The Manston immigration centre opened in February 2022 to process the migrants who arrived in the UK on small boats.

The Home Office intended to hold the migrants at the centre for up to five days while they underwent security checks. The migrants would then be moved into accommodation, usually a hotel.

Migrants who did not pass the security check would be moved to immigration detention centres.

Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney said opening the centre “was a recognition of the fact that the facilities that we had on the docks site down in Dover were not sufficient to deal with the volumes we thought we were going to experience this year”.

He also said: “The aim was to run a site that had between 1,000 and 1,600 people passing through it every day, and that all of those checks would be completed in under 24 hours. For a large part of this year, that is exactly how it was operating, and you will have seen that.”

Where is Manston migrant centre?

The Manston immigration centre is on the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre site, next to Manston International Airport.

Manston is a village in Kent, south-east England. It is north-west of Ramsgate, south of Margate and about 20 miles north of Dover.

What are the problems with it?

Conservative MP Roger Gale has said there were around 4,000 migrants at the centre, which he described as being “overwhelmed”.

Some migrants are having to spend longer at the centre due to a lack of accommodation.

Mr O’Mahoney said: “As the year went on, it became increasingly difficult to move people off the site, and we have had to increase the capacity of the site and then, necessarily, the length of time that people have been on the site, because we have not been able to move them out into asylum accommodation as quickly as we would have wanted to.”

PA news agency analysis of government figures shows that 7,961 people arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in September.

What did Home Secretary Suella Braverman say about migrants?

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been criticised for the language she used to describe migrants.

In the House of Commons on Monday, Ms Braverman said: “The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.

“Let’s stop pretending they are all refugees in distress.”

Her comments were criticised by Mr Jenrick, who told Sky News: “In a job like mine, you have to choose your words very carefully.

“And I would never demonise people coming to this country in pursuit of a better life. I understand and appreciate our obligation to refugees.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "No home secretary who was serious about public safety or national security would use highly inflammatory language on the day after a dangerous petrol bomb attack on a Dover initial processing centre."