First Legal Action Issued by Detention Action Against Home Secretary in Response to Conditions at Manston Holding Facility

On Monday 1st November, an urgent, pre-action letter was sent to the office of the Home Secretary on behalf of the charity Detention Action and a woman held at the Manston Short-Term Holding Facility in Kent.

This letter represents the first legal action taken against the Home Secretary for the unlawful treatment of people held at the facility.

The charity Detention Action provides support and practical advice to people held in immigration detention.

Detention Action and the individual female claimant are represented by Duncan Lewis solicitors.

The letter contended that the individual woman claimant, a national of a non-European country, was unlawfully detained by the Home Secretary at the Manston facility in ‘egregiously defective conditions’. The letter also states ‘It is emphasised on behalf of Detention Action that the complaint includes serious threats to the safety of children.’

Systemic problems challenged by both the individual woman claimant and the charity Detention Action at the facility include: the routine prolongation of detention beyond statutory time limits; failure to adhere to essential safeguarding measures for children; children and women sleeping alongside adult men to whom they are unrelated; inadequate or non-existent access to legal advice for those detained; and exposure to infectious diseases due to overcrowding and poor sanitation.

James Wilson, Deputy Director of Detention Action, said:

“We have taken this action out of serious concern for the welfare of thousands of people, including children, still being detained at Manston for periods far beyond legal limits. We are calling on the Home Secretary to declare that anyone held at Manston for more than 24 hours is being detained unlawfully. We are also asking that the Home Secretary allow access to the facility for organisations qualified to provide support in immigration detention settings.”