CHILDREN'S services in Harrow have become increasingly concerned about the trafficking of Vietnamese children to work in cannabis factories, after a crackdown on drug dens in the last 12 months.
In the same week that Harrow Council was praised by the United Nations for its work with trafficked minors, it was revealed to the Observer that eight children - six of whom are Vietnamese - have been rescued from terrible conditions in drug factories across the borough.
In April last year we reported that a staggering 41 children were thought to have been trafficked into Harrow in the previous 12 months and sold for domestic servitude and prostitution for prices up to £100,000.
A spokesperson for the council's children services said that trafficking is still a massive concern in Harrow a year later and that children working in cannabis factories had become a major issue.
The borough's work in the field however has helped to bring about prosecutions, and has supported the children who have been exploited.
Last year Harrow piloted a 'toolkit' which aimed to help children's agencies to recognise the signs of trafficking and helped share information between various concerned bodies.
This work saw them singled out this week by Unicef , the organisation which works for children's rights across the world.
In a report, called Levelling the Playing Field, it praised the council's work in identifying child trafficking victims, supporting the mental health needs of unaccompanied children who have suffered emotional trauma or psychological disturbance, and in providing specialist training for adults responsible for working with migrant children.
Councillor Christine Bednell , portfolio holder for children's services, said: "The exploitation of some young children, particularly in the sex industry, is one of the unwelcome consequences of free movement across borders in Europe.
"We are glad to have played a part in this report which graphically brings home the desperate circumstances these children find themselves caught in.
"While being taken into care may mean the thankful end of a career in child prostitution, it can be the start of a whole new gamut of problems for the young person and Harrow is committed to doing all we can to support these children in need."