Met officers check hotels’ responses to threats of CSE: the Metropolitan Police has been working to ensure hotel staff in London know what action to take should they suspect their premises are being used for Child Sexual Exploitation offences.
Many of the venues have previously received training under Operation Makesafe which provides guidance to hotel managers on spotting signs of Child Sexual Exploitation.
Met officers tested their response last week by turning up at venues in plain clothes with young police cadets and attempting to book a room using cash, with alcohol on display and refusing to show identification.
Officers were testing the hotel staff’s response to a scenario which would be expected to raise alarm bells and prompt proactive action. Officers wanted staff working on reception at the venue to recognise the warning signs, refuse to rent out the room, and contact police. Referencing ‘Makesafe’ during the call alerts call handlers to the CSE element and officers will be sent to the scene.
Officers from City of London have also taken part in the operation, with a number of hotels within the Square Mile visited.
Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap, the Met’s lead for CSE, said: “We know that perpetrators of CSE may use hotels to commit offences, which is why Operation Makesafe was initially introduced. Makesafe is all about awareness raising and has received wide recognition at a national level, helping us all to keep children safe. We know that CSE is likely to be under reported, so we rely on people being alert and well informed about some of the ways that children could be groomed. We would far rather someone alerted us and for it to be a false alarm, than for us to miss a chance to investigate. This operation is based on that principle so that even if this type of crime might be very rare for a hotel to see, they are sure about what to do.”
“This is about making sure that the training implemented is being put into practice; and what has been established during previous similar operations, is that there are occasions when the correct action is not always being taken. We have been working closely with those within the hotel industry, who understand the importance of the issue and are keen to support our efforts.”
“This is not an operation designed to catch people out or blame these venues. We want to encourage awareness in a powerful way. Where the response is not what we would expect, it offers us the opportunity to provide refresher training and reiterate the warning signs. By carrying out these operations we are keeping the issue fresh in the minds of those who can take positive action, with a view to preventing offences and safeguarding young people,” she concluded.