Croydon, where the council’s children’s services department is being carefully monitored by a government-appointed commissioner following “inadequate” findings by Ofsted inspectors, is to stage a conference on modern slavery next week.
One of the more worrying findings of the Ofsted inspectors was the high number of children under local authority care and supervision who go missing while in Croydon, putting them at increased risk of being used as slaves or prostitutes.
“When children and young people are missing, there is not always enough information gathered about the risks that they face,” the Ofsted inspectors’ report says. “This means that the risks to children and young people, especially dangers from adults sexually exploiting them or from gangs, are not always known and the best help and support are not always given.”
The Croydon conference will be held on Wednesday October 18 at the Croydon Conference Centre, Surrey Street.
Speakers will include Bharti Patel, of children’s rights organisation Ecpat UK; Tamara Barnett, project leader for the Human Trafficking Foundation; Rebecca Baumgartner, of the Home Office’s modern slavery unit; and Tony Byrne, representing the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
Council staff, police, teachers, doctors, church groups, community organisations and NHS staff will be among those in attendance, looking at and discussing:
• the Modern Slavery Act 2015;
• developing an understanding of the scale and depth of modern slavery and its impact on victims;
• learning how to recognise the signs.
The conference will be opened by Toni Letts, the Mayor of Croydon, who said: “It’s important that conferences like this don’t shy away from the important issues, and that those who attend feel, as they leave, that they’re armed with the necessary information and contacts to help fight this blight on humanity, and to bring it to a complete end.”
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