The POA trade union represents members who work on contracts supporting Immigration Services and Border Force Officers across the United Kingdom and France.

The POA have concerns relating to the Manston Short-term Holding Facility in Kent and its ability to perform its core function of assessing and processing migrants and asylum seekers in a timely manner.

The POA have members on the ground at Manston who are tasked to care for residents whilst they go through that process, our members then provide escort to those who move to suitable onward accommodation.

The large number of migrants arriving through September means that the target of holding people for 24 -48 hours is now purely aspirational, people are now staying at the Manston facility up a week.

The POA were impressed by the Home Office and contractor mobilisation of the Manston site as it offered significant improvements over the facilities at Port of Dover’s Tug Haven site.

However, the improved facility is now struggling to perform its role, and tensions within the site are rising.

A POA member working at the site likened the situation to a pressure cooker coming to the boil with a jammed release valve, she described the ability to move people on from the site in a timely manner as that pressure release valve. 

We have had reports of incidents escalating, altercations between residents boiling over and resulting in injury with Police having to be called to the site to investigate assaults and provide support to staff.

The POA believe the failure to relieve this pressure sits at the highest level with a government that has not provided a coherent response at pace, to the increase in numbers of migrants crossing the channel and the strain that is putting on the facility.

The POA are fully committed to the safety of our members working at the site and to the safety of those in the care of our members.

We have been informed that there have been days, where the facility have run out of food and drinking water for residents.

We are informed the marquees are crowded, levels of bedding on site have become inadequate, laundry facilities are inadequate, cleaning regimes are not adhered to as the number of residents does not drop to allow cleaning teams to attend, issues have been raised around high levels of condensation within the marquees that has led to mould and bacteria developing.

We will today write to Charlie Taylor HM Chief Inspector of prisons and urge that his inspectorate attend and asses the developing situation at the Manston STHF.

We will share with HMIP concerns from our members around developing safety issues, and decency issues for residents. 

A high-level solution must be found to move residents on in a timely manner and allow Manston to return to its core function, a short-term holding facility. We will share our concerns with the Home Office, and we will engage with contractors on site around other safety concerns in relation to levels of supervision and a huge reliance on overtime as recruitment struggles to keep pace with the demands from the site. 

If you wish to discuss this matter further or seek further comment, please contact POA Assistant General Secretary Andy Baxter on 07495 428133 or by email at



Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.