Report: Fears for children following human trafficking

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday

Human trafficking by gang masters could explain a sharp rise in Lithuanian children needing foster care in Peterborough.

The suggestion was made in a Peterborough City Council report which says children from central and eastern Europe need “immediate safeguarding and protection” after coming into their care.

The council also says it is struggling with the problem as none of their foster carers speak the same language as the children.

The number of looked-after children who are white and not British rose from 34 in August 2013 to 50 by October 2014.

In that period the number of looked-after Lithuanian children rose from five to 15.

The total number of children looked after in Peterborough is currently 370.

The council report by Lou Williams, assistant director for commissioning, said: “There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests vulnerable people from Lithuania in particular are being trafficked into the region by exploiters and used to supply cheap labour through a network of illegal gangmasters.

“This growing population of children coming into care from central and eastern European backgrounds may also be a symptom of this much larger problem.”

The council has not given reasons as to why it thinks children are coming into its care due to human trafficking.

Mr Williams wrote: “We are committed to working with the community and voluntary sector to identify how we can better support children and families who are newly arrived into the UK while also developing links with those members of the same communities who are becoming more settled and who may be able to become foster carers for the council.”

In a futher development, the council will consider asking parents to contribute towards their child’s foster care.

A means-tested contributions policy, which would only affect a few parents, will be passed on to the council’s cabinet to discuss.

Council officers want to remind parents they also share responsiblity for their looked-after children.