Channel crossings: Child asylum seekers held at Border Force processing centre amid 'preventable chaos'

Children arriving on boats over the English Channel are being held by the Border Force in a migrant “processing” centre after local authorities ran out of capacity.

Kent County Council had warned for months that it did not have the resources to safely house the rising number of young asylum seekers crossing to Britain.

But officials said that promises made by the Home Office “had not materialised” even as the government hailed new agreements with France and created the post of “clandestine Channel threat commander”.

This is a huge challenge for Kent, but a relatively small challenge to solve nationally, and should have been resolved before now,” said Roger Gough, the leader of Kent council.

“The stark reality today is that, despite my conversations with the Home Office alerting them that Kent expected to reach safe capacity to meet its statutory duty of care this weekend, 13 new arrivals in the last two days has now tipped the balance and the council simply cannot safely accommodate any more new arrivals.”

The Home Office said unaccompanied children arriving in Dover would be kept at the Kent Intake Unit before being placed with social services.

A recent government job advert said the unit consisted of a “large room designed to hold up to 58 detainees”, a smaller room for families and areas for searches to be carried out.

“The purpose of the facility is to detain people who attempted to gain entry into the UK without detection,” it added.

“Most detainees will be present in the holding room for no longer than 36 hours.“

When asked by The Independent, the Home Office would not comment on whether the unit had exceeded its stated capacity, or say how many adults and children were being kept there.

It would not say what conditions children were being kept in, whether they had facilities to sleep and wash or how long they would be kept there for.

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