Manston migrant processing centre now empty

The Manston migrant processing centre is now completely empty after concerns it had become dangerously overcrowded.

The holding site in Kent for people who have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel has been cleared, with everyone who was there now moved into hotels, Home Office sources confirmed.

It is understood the facility remains open and will continue to be used as needed to carry out initial checks on migrants as more arrive.

Migrants outside centre
Earlier this month 4,000 people were at the site (Gareth Fuller/PA)

At its peak earlier this month, 4,000 people were at the site – at least double its 1,600 capacity – in what was branded a “breach of humane conditions”.

Since then the numbers have gradually reduced as groups were moved out of the site.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Manston by design is meant to be a temporary holding facility, where people are processed before moving on – normally, fairly quickly.

“Obviously there were immediate challenges, particularly after the attack at the other centre, which caused numbers to spike. So you would expect numbers to be relatively low on a daily basis as people are moved through quickly.”

More than 42,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel, according to provisional Government figures.

No journeys have been recorded by the Ministry of Defence for the last seven days amid bad weather conditions.

It comes as a man died in hospital after being held at the processing centre.

It is thought he crossed the Channel on November 12 before being taken to Manston.

(PA Graphics)

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said there was no evidence at this stage to suggest the death was caused by an infectious disease and it is suspected the man was already unwell before he came to the UK.

A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out and the case has been referred to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

But the police watchdog said it had reviewed the case and will not be investigating as it “does not have the jurisdiction” to do so and the matter does “not fall under our remit”.

The former military airfield near Ramsgate has been dogged by controversy over the last few weeks, with ministers coming under fire over the conditions.

Last month chief inspector of borders and immigration David Neal told MPs he was left “speechless” by the “wretched” conditions at the site and laid bare the scale of the overcrowding chaos when he warned Manston was already past the point of being unsafe.

The facility is designed to hold migrants for a maximum of 24 hours but stays of up to five days are permitted in exceptional circumstances.

But Mr Neal described how he had met families who had been living there for a month and had to sleep on the floor of a marquee.

A week later chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor called on the Home Office to “get a grip” on the problems at the site and said the government department and its contractors must “speed up the processing of migrants so people can be moved off the site as quickly as possible”.

Cases of diphtheria – a highly contagious infection which can prove fatal if not treated quickly – had also been reported at Manston.