More than 400 asylum seekers were illegally detained at immigration removal centers, it has been reported.
The detention of between 450 and 500 migrants held as “overflow” from the Manston processing center in November was described at the time as “no longer legal”, according to a chain of Home Office emails obtained by the BBC through a freedom of information request .
During a surge in channel crossings in October, as many as 4,000 people were being detained at Manston, which is designed to hold just 1,600.
New arrivals were expected to be taken to the centre, which is designed for holding people for short periods during security and identity checks, before being moved to accommodation.
But some people were held for far longer periods due to a lack of alternative accommodation.
The BBC reports the emails show Home Office permanent secretaries were aware of overcrowding concerns at the time.
“Their detention is no longer legal as they can only be detained whilst their identity is locked down and then only for a maximum of 5 days,” one email said.
“Most have been there for a number of weeks, longer than some Manston cases. We need to move them to hotels ASAP…”
A Home Office spokesperson told the broadcaster an unprecedented number of small boat arrivals had put “huge pressure” on the asylum system, adding it had “worked tirelessly to move people into hotels or other accommodation as quickly as possible”.