Friday 24 May 2024
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Nottinghamshire hotel staff urged to ‘follow instincts’ to help in the fight against child sexual exploitation

Hotel staff are being asked to play their part in the fight against child sexual exploitation – by spotting the signs of abuse and taking decisive action to protect vulnerable young people.

As hotels re-open to the public Nottinghamshire Police is encouraging establishments  across the county to make staff aware of the key warning signs of abuse, from uncomfortable looking young people and evasive adults to suspicious bookings and unusual activity in and around bedrooms.

The force’s child sexual exploitation unit is urging staff to follow their instincts and pay close attention that things that look or feel wrong.

Officers have been in direct contact with venues to drop off advice leaflets and will continue to monitor establishments that give them cause for concern.

By doing so they hope not only to prosecute abusers, but also to identify vulnerable young people who are urgently in need of help and support.

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Detective Inspector Gemma Scott, who leads the exploitation unit, said: “Sadly we do know that a very small number of people use hotels to exploit children and young people and to engage in illegal sexual activity. That means that hotel staff – whether they realise it or not – are actually on the front-line of efforts to keep vulnerable people safe.

“That’s why we want them to act as our eyes and ears – to understand the warning signs, to know when something is wrong, and to have the confidence to report their suspicions to the police.

“Very often those warning signs amount to things that – for whatever reason – just don’t look or feel right. It could be an older man with a teenage girl who is clearly not related to him and appears uncomfortable, or somebody who lives locally but arrives with a young person wanting to book a room.

“By helping hotel staff to better understand these key warning signs we are empowering them to help safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Key warning sings include ‘walk-in’ bookings who arrive with no ID or luggage and request a secluded room. Children, meanwhile, may seem uncomfortable and may not be registered guests.

Hotels too are being asked to look out for suspicious activity in rooms, and also to take some simple steps that may help in police investigations, including the retention of CCTV footage and refusal records, and maintaining an incident logbook.

Above all they are being asked to report suspicious behaviour to the police by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Detective Inspector Scott added: “We understand that people are often reluctant to call the police and can be worried that they will be wasting our time. So let me be very clear: we want to hear from anyone who is concerned about the welfare of a child.

“You don’t need conclusive proof that anything is amiss, just a feeling that something is not right. That information may then be processed in isolation, or it may be used as part of a larger inquiry. But I can guarantee that it will not be ignored.”

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