Drugs scandal hits Marston migrant centre

Lucy Moreton updates on situation at Manston after protests

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Home Office contractors have been removed from the migrant processing centre at Manston, Kent. The workers were disciplined after it emerged they had attempted to sell illegal drugs to asylum seekers.

The issue came to light after asylum seekers at the controversial site complained that security stage tried to sell them cannabis, according to the Guardian.

Other security guards are also understood to have raised concerns their they colleagues were smoking while on duty.

Responding to reports, the Home Office said in a statement: “The Home Office expects the highest standards of professionalism from all those contracted to manage the detention estate.

“The individuals involved in this incident were swiftly removed from the site and we will continue to take robust action against those whose behaviour falls beneath those high standards.”

Since the statement’s release, questions have been raised over what action will be taken against the contractors.

Journalist Joel Taylor wrote in a post on Twitter: “The curious thing is, there’s little suggestion in [reports] that those trying to sell drugs are facing criminal prosecution.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk that those involved have been “permanently” removed from the site, but noted that it was for the contractor and the police to pursue any further action.

The detention centre has become a subject of major contention over the past week following the release of a report revealing that for many at the site, the length of stay was “far too long”.

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Migrants were only intended to be kept at the centre to undergo checks for under 24 hours, though some stayed “far in excess of this” time, often due to an apparent lack of alternative accommodation.

The report, perhaps more significantly, criticised the condition of the site’s facilities.

It revealed that the baby changing facility was located in a “dirty mobile toilet” and that “a lack of trained Mitie staff to supervise other marquees meant that adult males were crowded into a single facility and exhausted detainees slept on floor mats between the rows of chairs”.

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Guardian Deputy Opinion Editor Jenny Stevens joked in a post on Twitter that the latest reports of attempting drug selling by Government contractors at the site was “proof, in case you needed it, that it can always get worse”.

Labour said that this was evidence the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, “has completely lost control of the asylum system”.

More than 1,000 migrants have been moved off the site since it became the focus of criticism over the past few days.

Refugee Council Chief Executive Enver Solomon told the Guardian: “This is appalling and yet further evidence that Manston is unfit for purpose with men, women and children subject to inhumane treatment.”

But a Home Office source stressed that the department “takes the safety and welfare of detained persons in its care extremely seriously”.

They added: “Whistleblowing procedures are in place to enable service providers and Home Office staff to safely and securely report any concerns, including concerns of misconduct and inappropriate behaviours.”

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