Hotels and other licensed premises across the Yorkshire and Humber region were visited by plain-clothed police in a continued crackdown on child sexual exploitation.
Officers visited premises offering accommodation in Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Scarborough, Scunthorpe and Hull with a child and attempted to book a double room with cash and without identification.
The operation followed the proactive delivery of a training package to hotels and other licensed premises across the region aimed at raising awareness of child sexual exploitation and the key warning signs.
In the two year period of 2015 - 2016 (calendar years) there were 63* instances in which Children were Sexually Abused in hotels or B&Bs in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Officers, in conjunction with hotels and partners from charities working to safeguard children, designed a training package to help businesses tackle the crime. Key aspects of the training input included tips on how to spot the warning signs of potential sex offenders and what to do if they have concerns.
And the training is already making an impact – with 3 hotels in Bradford, Leeds and Scunthorpe, recognising all of the signs of exploitation, refusing to allow the room to be booked and contacting the police providing them with information that would have assisted them in safeguarding the child.
Detective Superintendent Simon Beldon of the Yorkshire and the Humber region, said: “The purpose of this operation was not to stigmatise hotels but to see if the training is working and having the necessary impact.
“The training package encourages members of staff working in these establishments to be professionally inquisitive in situations that don’t look or feel normal. Staff at hotels that have done this in the past and reported it to the police, have undoubtedly prevented children coming to significant harm.”
“I am pleased that the vast majority of establishments passed the test although slightly disappointed that most only turned the officer and child away rather than actually report them to us. Only three establishments did do that.
“Safeguarding children is everyone’s business. The police cannot and must not work in isolation. We can only stop those who seek to sexually exploit children if everyone acts as our eyes and ears – if something feels wrong (like a child going to a hotel with a much older man) then let us know.”
*10 of these, although reported to a Yorkshire and the Humber force, were alleged to have taken place outside of the area.