The City of London cancelled a contract with a foster care agency after an investigation found a young asylum seeker it had placed was being subjected to modern-day slavery by their carer.
The young person was removed from the placement following the discovery in late-2017, according to a report presented to the Corporation’s safeguarding community and children’s services sub-committee on Wednesday.
The November 2017 audit was ordered following the Parsons Green bombing in London by Iraqi asylum-seeker Ahmed Hassan , who was living in foster care when he carried out the attack on the London Underground.
It focused on whether the IFAs had adequate training to detect risks of radicalisation, and also assessed the young people in their care.
It found that all IFAs were well-trained, but noted a direct link between the quality of the fostering agency and the care provided, singling out one case for concern.
“One young person who was identified as being subject to modern-day slavery was placed with an IFA that was judged as being inadequate in their recent Ofsted inspection,” the report said.
“The young person has now been moved from the placement and the IFA involved is no longer being used by the City of London.”
The case was not specifically discussed in the meeting, but safeguarding and quality assurance manager Pat Dixon told the sub-committee: “One of the key areas that came through in this report was we need to be more robust in ordering risk assessments.”
Chairman Randall Anderson said that details of that particular case would be temporarily withheld from the public part of the meeting, in order to protect the identities of a small number of children.
He added that details would be made public once they could be released without breaching any child’s privacy.
The City does not provide its own fostering services, instead commissioning them via the Pan-London Consortium, using the independent agencies.
The report noted most social workers involved with fostering placements had considerable expertise in identifying children at risk of radicalisation, and City of London police were closely involved when concerns were raised.
Committee member Dhruv Patel questioned whether the focus should extend to whether there were exploited adults in the Square Mile too.
He said: “I just wonder whether there is any possibility of looking at modern-day slavery’s reach within the Corporation’s area – because there are things like begging games, nail bars, peanut sellers. I wondered whether there was anything we could do about that?”
Following the meeting a City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “The welfare of our looked after children is our top priority.
“We work closely with the police and other agencies to ensure that our children feel safe and are safe in the environment in which they are living.
“We are committed to supporting our staff and independent fostering agencies to prevent exploitation through raising awareness and training.”
Feedback from young people in care was also presented during the meeting, showing high satisfaction; with young people particularly praising their social workers, and more than three-quarters saying they were happy in their placements.
The sole negative comment was not about a fostering placement, but was highlighted by children’s services manager Vera Beining as “very sad”.
She said the young person had received a negative result from an immigration application, and had remarked: “No one can help me now.”