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.
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'.