Home Secretary visits migrant processing facilities in Kent

Home Secretary Suella Braverman visits Border Force and operational colleagues in Dove. Picture by Brandon Hattiloney / No 10 Downing Street

The Home Secretary visited the Western Jet Foil and Manston sites in Kent yesterday (3 November) to see the progress being made to ease the pressures on our immigration system and support people on-site, while thanking staff for their continued hard work.

Suella Braverman went to Western Jet Foil to speak to officers following the shocking incident there this weekend.

At Manston, she saw the momentous efforts underway to ease pressures on site and process individuals into alternative accommodation, alongside the immediate support being provided, particularly to vulnerable people.

Over 1,000 people have been moved off site within the last five days, helping return Manston onto a more sustainable footing.

She also confirmed steps being taken today to immediately improve the situation on the ground. These include bolstering the 24/7 medical facilities already on site, extra bedding and improved catering facilities, as well as providing more activities to support migrant welfare, including for children.

The Home Secretary and operational colleagues agreed that the vital work to safeguard individuals and provide alternative accommodation and support as quickly as possible remains their priority, making sure that people are treated with dignity, care and compassion throughout the process.

In Dover, the Home Secretary observed the expert techniques used by operational teams to intercept, identify and process those arriving via small boats.

She spoke with Border Force officers, military, and other personnel on the ground and thanked them for their dedicated work, under difficult circumstances, to protect UK borders and save lives. The Home Secretary also reiterated her gratitude and thoughts to all those affected by the distressing incident on Sunday.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

I have met with our expert teams who work tirelessly to save lives and protect the UK’s borders. I wanted to see first-hand how we’re working to reduce the number of people in Manston, support people there, and thank staff for all their efforts.

I am incredibly proud of the skill and dedication shown to tackle this challenging situation here on a daily basis.

This is a complex and difficult situation, which we need to tackle on all fronts and look at innovative solutions. To break the business model of the people smugglers, we need to ensure that the illegal migration route across the Channel is ultimately rendered unviable.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe in Kent has issued a statement saying:

“There has been renewed focus this week on the growing crisis arising from the large numbers of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. Let me say first that I want these crossings to stop. They are dangerous, have and will further lead to loss of life, create understandable fear and concern for the communities that live along the Kent coast, and are placing a growing burden on services within the county. I have recently met with the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, along with other Kent MPs, to impress upon her the urgent need for a solution, and have spoken more recently with the new Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, who has agreed to meet me in Folkestone to discuss this.

“We need to be clear about what we have done so far to try and meet this challenge, as well as what more needs to be done now. Firstly, the growing numbers of channel crossings in small boats are partly a result of improved security at Calais and the Eurotunnel entrance. This has made it harder for people to get into the country through these routes. Also, improved policing on the French coast is stopping about half of the people who are trying to cross the Channel in these vessels. These efforts are a consequence of investment we have made along with the French authorities. We need to build on this towards joint operations between the British and French border forces to identify and return more boats before or as they enter the water. We have continually offered this to the French government, and it would be the most effective way to pool our joint resources in this effort. I know from when I spoke to the head of operations for Border Force at Lydd earlier in the year, that our surveillance equipment would already give us the capability to identify migrant activity inland in France before the boats reach the water. There also needs to be a wider international effort to direct asylum seekers escaping war zones to the safe migration routes and centres, when they reach Europe from across the Mediterranean Sea. This is something where the UK does and should continue to play a significant role.

“Secondly, we need faster action to return migrants from Albania, which is a safe country, and who are here for economic reasons, including some who may be travelling as part of organised crime gangs. Thirdly, we must work to make the Rwanda scheme for processing some asylum claimants a reality. Offshore processing has worked for Australia and has been used by other European countries. If this acts as a disincentive for people to cross the channel in small boats as a perceived fast track to gain asylum seeker status in the UK, then that would be a good thing.

“Finally, we need more support in Kent. It is clear that the processing facilities in Dover and Manston cannot cope with the demands that are being placed upon them. In Folkestone and Hythe local hotels are being used as accommodation as well as Napier Barracks. The rest of the country needs to share more of the burden.”

Photo licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.


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