Ministers ‘considering plans to allow migrants to be held for up to 96 hours’

A view of the Manston immigration short-term holding facility located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet, Kent <i>(Image: PA)</i>
A view of the Manston immigration short-term holding facility located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet, Kent (Image: PA)

MINISTERS are reportedly considering changing the law to allow Channel migrants to be held at the Manston processing centre for up to 96 hours.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the change would allow migrants to be held for three or four days – up from the current statutory limit of 24 hours.

It comes after figures revealed more than 43,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year.

Recently, Home Secretary Suella Braverman came under fire for moving asylum seekers with suspected diphtheria from Manston Detention Centre to hotels across the country

The Ministry of Defence said 884 people were detected in 17 boats on Tuesday, which suggests an average of around 52 per boat.

READ MORE: Fury over Manston immigration centre as 'women and kids sleep on mats on the floors of tents'

The latest crossings take the provisional total for 2022 to date to 43,500, according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures.

The Telegraph says ministers are considering amending the “short term holding facility rules”, which limit the amount of time an asylum seeker can be held, via a statutory instrument in Parliament.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement: “Staff across the Home Office have worked tirelessly under challenging circumstances to source alternative accommodation as quickly as possible for those who have been processed at Manston.

“The site remains at acceptable capacity levels and improvements continue to be made to ensure it is well-resourced to process migrants safely and securely.

“The global migration crisis continues to place an unprecedented and unsustainable strain on our asylum system, which is why we remain focused on deterring illegal migration and disrupting the criminal gangs responsible for these dangerous crossings.”

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, whose constituency covers the Manston centre, told The Telegraph: “I don’t want anybody to be detained any longer than necessary but if you have a sudden influx and have to move them on, in certain circumstances it might take more than 24 hours especially if they have to be screened to ensure they have not got any infections.”

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

At its peak in early November, the Manston facility housed 4000 people – at least double its 1600 capacity – in what was branded a “breach of humane conditions”.

​READ MORE: This is what I saw inside the notorious Manston asylum centre

It has since been cleared, however there has been fresh criticism of the facility following an outbreak of diphtheria among asylum seekers, with the Home Office revealing a man may have died from the highly contagious disease.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there had been an “increase” in cases of diphtheria reported among asylum seekers arriving in the UK, with 50 identified as of November 25, including children. The figure was 39 on November 10.

The Government said any asylum seekers with symptoms of diphtheria will be put into isolation while they are treated, and all migrants are being offered a vaccine on arrival in the UK.