The UK’s borders watchdog has criticised the Home Office for its response to the tens of thousands of Channel migrants entering the UK, while also revealing he is yet to meet home secretary Suella Braverman.
David Neal, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, told a House of Commons committee today that migrants were being processed in “wretched” conditions that left him “speechless”.
Neal said there were almost 3,000 people, almost double the intended amount, at the makeshift Manston Airport site in Kent and that Braverman needed “to address the issue … it is an enormous problem for the Home Office”.
He said only one of 21 reports he has filed to the Home Office about the state of the borders have been published in the agreed upon timeframe of eight weeks.
Newly appointed home secretary Suella Braverman, who was also home secretary for six weeks before being sacked from the job last week, has never met with Neal about the state of the borders.
More than 30,000 people have crossed the Channel on boats from France to the UK this year – a new annual record.
Almost 29,000 people made the journey in 2021.
Neal told the Home Affairs Select Committee that around 2,500 of the Channel migrants detained in Manston Airport were being guarded by “by non-trained custody officers”.
“If there’s nearly 2,500 people who aren’t guarded by appropriately trained people – that’s an extraordinary number. There’s no prison in the country that’s that big,” he said.
The borders chief also raised concerns about the lack of nutrition in the food served and about the lack of basic facilities, like beds.
Neal said there had also been cases of diptheria circulating in the detention centre.
The Home Office was contacted for comment.