The Home Office needs to be significantly improved

This morning at a minute past midnight the Guardian published a piece written by Rajeev Syal that can be obtained here under the headline of Rape survivors arriving in UK on small boats neglected by authorities – report which focuses on a report that appears to have come from the Dover Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which monitors the Kent Channel detention facilities. According to the Guardian it said it was

“extremely concerned” about the continuing – and worsening – conditions in Dover, believing these should be highlighted as a matter of urgency.It found that migrants faced being held in increasingly cold conditions. Children, including toddlers and babies, were held at Tug Haven, the initial point of entry, overnight.

New arrivals, some of whom had been splashed with scorching fuel on the boats, bore evidence of severe injuries, the report said.

“One 16-year-old girl who had fuel burns on her legs and had been at Tug Haven for two days wearing wet clothes did not have her injuries detected until she was admitted to the Kent intake unit.

“By this time the seam of her clothes had become embedded into the burns and a medic reported that the girl was likely to be scarred for life,” the report said.

The article also referred to a question raised yesterday in the House of Commons by Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet which can be found here. His Question was answered by Tom Pursglove who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office. One of Tom’s roles is being responsible for Foreign National Offenders and Immigration. The piece in the Guardian stated

Charlie Taylor, HM chief inspector of prisons, said the Home Office had not done enough to improve facilities since the last inspection in September 2020 found that the facilities were badly equipped.

So here are two brief elements from the question and answer section in Parliament that indicate how recent the current proposals have arrived, 15 months after the last inspection

Roger Gale: On Friday 10 December, I received an email from the executive officer of Kent Wing informing me that 2433 Air Training Unit had been given until today, 15 December, to vacate premises at the former RAF barracks and fire training school

“in order that an Immigration Centre could be established there”.

This was described as

“not for us to debate; it is an order to us”.

That was the first that I had heard of this Home Office-instigated proposal. There had been no consultation with me, as the Member of Parliament, with the leader of the county council, with the leader of Thanet District Council, or, I believe, with the county constabulary. I spoke to the Minister of State on that day and was promised a full briefing, with civil servants present.

The leader of Thanet District Council was called by Home Office officials at 5 pm on Monday, two days ago, and the leader of Kent County Council at 6 pm. Again, there was no consultation, and to date, Kent’s senior health officer has not been consulted or even informed officially that the Home Office, which has known of the developing cross-channel people trafficking issue for months, and of the developing crisis for weeks, was proposing to create a screening and processing centre at the unsuitable Manston Road site. Neither were proposals for a phase 2 transfer and triage facility from Tug Haven to Manston discussed; nor was a further proposal for a phase 3 expansion of facilities, to handle the still-to-be-determined number of migrants over an unspecified length of time, consulted on. All we were told by the civil servant leading the project who, as I understand, was working from home and has not visited the site, is that the Home Office is establishing a processing centre—not might be, is establishing—before Christmas.

And here is some of the responses from Tom

Tom Pursglove: My right hon. Friend asked whether this is a permanent arrangement. We will keep our use of the Manston site under review, but we expect to continue to use it for some time. He has suggested some alternatives. If he would like to share those details with me, I would be happy to take that away and look at what he is suggesting, but I go back to the key point in all of this, which is that the Government’s objective is to end these channel crossings. That is the objective we continue to work towards, and it is what the British people expect. We have a comprehensive plan of action—I have set it out many times in this House—for how we achieve that. Of course, getting that right means that there would not then be the need for facilities such as the one he has concerns about.

It is very clear that the Home Office needs to significantly step up its focus on these issues.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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