The proportion of prospective adopters in east London who identify as black has increased dramatically in a year, a committee heard.

According to Adopt London East, the regional adoption agency, 18 per cent of adopting enquirers in 2020/21 were of "black or mixed-black heritage".

That’s more than double the seven pc recorded the previous year. To date in 2021/22, 36pc of enquirers fell into that category.

Sue May, head of service for Adopt London East, told Havering Council’s children’s scrutiny subcommittee the change would help them find placements for black children, particularly older black boys, who typically wait the longest to be adopted.

She said: “We put a lot of effort and energy, both in Adopt London East and Adopt London, to actually reach out to our local black communities and we’ve managed to increase the percentage of enquirers identifying as black.”

Adopt London East - which covers Havering, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Barking and Dagenham boroughs - was established as a result of a 2015 government directive which aimed to increase efficiency in adoption services.

It went live in October 2019 and last Tuesday, November 23, presented its second annual report to Havering Council.

The organisation claims to have placed 25 children with adoptive families across the four boroughs between April 1 and October 31 this year, of whom 36pc were of black or minority ethnic heritage.

Ms May said she expected a high number of placements to be made in Havering in the coming year, after an increase in the number of placement orders issued in 2020/21.

She said the number of placements made in a year typically reflects the number of placement orders made in the previous year.

The creation of a regional adoption body had, according to Ms May, led to “a more streamlined approach to services to support each other, to sort of fill in and cover for each other”.

This has meant the "adoption support offer has been able to be increased considerably with very little by way of additional resources,” she claimed.

Robert South, director of children’s social care at Havering Council, thanked Ms May, who is retiring in 2022, for her service to the borough.