ASIAN children are less likely to end up in care because of the strong support network in the community, according to a religious leader.

Latest figures show that of the 385 children in care in Blackburn with Darwen in December, the vast majority - 316 - were white British.

The number of Asian children was just 29, which is less than half their proportion in the local population.

Elsewhere in East Lancashire, the number of Asian children in care is similarly low.

Figures show that in Burnley, only four of the 155 children in care were Asian, while the number was eight out of 176 in Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley.

In Pendle there were 199 youngsters in care, but only eight were Asian, and the figure was just two out of 87 in Rossendale.

Salim Mulla, chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques and a borough councillor in Blackburn with Darwen, said he was not surprised by the statistics.

“In our community the majority of people tend to have a large extended family,” he said.

“So within the community, extended family members often take on the additional responsibility of looking after their relatives’ children without even thinking about it.

“That is the mentality of the Muslim community, to support one another in their hour of need, and that message is always given in sermons in mosques.”

Last week 13-year-old Mohammed Alam Naseem was found dead in his bed at specialist children’s home Woodside House, in Tockholes Road, Darwen.

The Haslingden High School pupil’s death came after an adoption placement with a muslim family broke down.

Coun Mulla said the youngster’s situation was unusual.

He said: “The Lancashire Council of Mosques has been deeply and heavily involved in encouraging people to adopt and foster children.

“We have held seminars with local authorities across Lancashire, where the professionals and officers spoke to us.

“After that we said to our community that people had to take responsibility for children who were in care by adopting or fostering.

“We said they had to understand that these children need somebody to look after them, and we gave a good example - that of the prophet Mohammed, who was an orphan.

“He was adopted and looked after, so his example shows us that adopting or fostering can be very rewarding.”