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Social workers who fear the problem of child trafficking is not being addressed can go straight to the department o...
Social workers who fear the problem of child trafficking is not being addressed can go straight to the department of health or social services inspector, junior health minister Jackie Smith told BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning.

Today reported that social workers had complained to the programme that they could not tackle the problem of West African children being trafficked and abused, for fear of being called racist. Weak management meant the failure to protect these children was not addressed, they said.

Amma Anan Aji, a consultant trainer working for Tower Hamlets LBC social services, said the recruitment crisis in social work meant some social workers were poorly trained. 'Just employing social workers as numbers to fill vacancies is going to be extremely detrimental to their clients', she said. 'Your blackness alone is not going to make you effective unless you've got the knowledge and the skills'. If this is not addressed, the lesson is there in the death of Victorial Climbie she said: 'what will go wrong is what is happening now - the death of an African child'.

Interviewed on the programme, Jackie Smith said she was taking the allegations seriously and had asked for the Today programme's evidence from its investigations.

'If social workers want to contact me or the chief inspector directly if they have these concerns, I would certainly be willing to follow them up', she said.

Meanwhile, social services directors reject the idea that their departments are

ignoring cases of child slavery by attributing them to West African

'cultural practices', BBC Radio Four's Today programme heard on December 21.

Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of Social

Services, told the programme: 'The principle of the protection of children

is absolutely clear in the minds of all the social workers I know'.

Mr Leadbetter said that, following the death of Victoria Climbie, social

workers were on the lookout for such cases, and that he was not aware of any

department failing to tackle child abuse because managers and social workers

were afraid of being seen as racist.

He said directors of social services had contacted him to say, 'we're not

aware of anything but we'll redouble our efforts to check up'.

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