Manston migrant processing centre visited by European anti-torture watchdog after man's death

The disease-hit Manston migrant centre in Kent was visited by a delegation from the European anti-torture watchdog Credit: PA

Manston migrant centre has been visited by a delegation from the European anti-torture watchdog after the Home Office confirmed a man died.

The temporary processing centre in Kent has been used to house migrants from recent English Channel boat arrivals.

It has been shrouded in scandal after it was revealed an estimated 4,000 asylum seekers were found cramped in facilities designed to hold just 1,600 people.

The centre also faced further backlash after a man's death, potentially linked to the infectious disease diphtheria.

A ‘rapid reaction visit’ was carried out the site in Kent by the European anti-torture watchdog Credit: PA

According to a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in July 2022 on the unannounced inspection of the short-term holding facilities at Manston, seven staff members from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a "rapid reaction visit" to the centre between 25 to 28 November.

The committee said: "The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment of foreign nationals arriving by small boat in the United Kingdom after crossing the English Channel.

"The delegation visited Western Jet Foil and Manston Short-Term Holding Facility where all such persons are processed and held during the first 24 hours of their arrival in the country.

"The delegation also visited the Kent Intake Unit in Dover where unaccompanied and separated minors are treated upon their arrival."

The report from the CPT are confidential at this stage, however, below are some key findings from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons report from July 2022.

The key findings in the report related to Manston included:

  • After arrival at Manston, detainees were searched for a third time, which was excessive, although the searches undertaken by Mitie Care and Custody staff were conducted in private and with sensitivity.

  • Induction interviews were held in a noisy area where staff and detainees struggled to communicate with each other.

  • Detainees with identified vulnerability were usually not sent to Manston, but a small number were processed there during the inspection period due to traffic disruption at Dover.

  • Manston was determined to be a "well-ordered and calm environment where staff provided a high level of supervision".

  • Recorded violence, non-compliance and self-harm were all rare.

  • The delegates saw exhausted detainees held for more than 30 hours become very frustrated at the time it was taking to be transferred to a place where they could sleep properly.

  • The longest time of detention at Manston was more than 70 hours, which was unacceptable for a non-residential facility.

Preliminary observations were given to Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick and Donald Smith, Director for Operations at the Clandestine Channel Threat Command (CCTC) at the Home Office, by the delegation at the end of the visit.

The recent visit from CPT officials comes as health authorities tackle a diphtheria outbreak among recent arrivals, with cases jumping from 39 to 50 since 10 November.

A man who arrived at the Manston centre on a small boat died in hospital on 19 November.

His death may have been caused by a diphtheria infection, the Home Office said last week.

The migrant centre has been hit by scandal after 4,000 asylum seekers were found to be crammed into the facilities Credit: PA

Asylum seekers with symptoms are being isolated at the Manston centre, where Home Office medics are on site.

All cases have now been treated with antibiotics and some have been vaccinated.

The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said most cases were likely infected before arrival in the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson said they are "responding to all of the findings" in the report and "continue to work closely with the NHS and UKHSA to support the individuals affected and limit the transmission of infection."

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