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Statement from UK NPM Chair Wendy Sinclair-Gieben

Response to the Committee on the Prevention of Torture ad hoc Visit Report to the United Kingdom in November 2022

The CPT visited Manston Short-Term Holding Facility and Western Jet Foil disembarkation site in November 2022. They did so following intelligence and widespread media coverage of unacceptable conditions at these sites in the Autumn of last year.

The UK NPM said at the time that we noted with serious concern the reports of conditions and treatment at these sites. We expect all detainees to be treated in humane, decent, and safe conditions. Human Rights standards are clear that migrants should only be detained as an absolute last resort and for the shortest possible time. It is clear that far too many people were being held on the site, for far longer than they should be. NPM members raised this with the Home Office and made additional unannounced inspections and visits.

The CPT note in their report that numbers had dramatically decreased from around 4000 at the end of October to only 20 when the delegation visited. I am pleased to note the findings that staff displayed caring and humane attitudes during their visit, and that numbers of detainees were manageable.

However, I am extremely concerned by the findings of potential inhumane and degrading treatment at the site between October and November 2022. The CPT found prolonged detention in very poor conditions may have exposed detainees in Manston to such unlawful treatment.

NPM member HMI Prisons carried out an additional unannounced inspection to the site in February 2023. While numbers were acceptable at the time, the inspectorate found shortcomings in leadership and no clear indication of who was in charge. The Chief Inspector was not assured that were numbers to increase, as they are expected to do, Manston would be able to function in a safe and humane way.

In the strongest possible terms, I call on the Home Office to implement the recommendations from the CPT and as an absolute essential priority, ensure the treatment migrants experienced last autumn is not repeated. NPM members will continue to monitor, inspect, and visit in line with our obligations.

I thank the CPT delegation for such a comprehensive and reflective report. The UK NPM has enjoyed a long and effective relationship with the CPT, and we greatly value the extra level of assurance provided by these periodic visits.

Full CPT Report Here (opens in a new tab)

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben
UK NPM Chair
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Scotland