Hotel staff from across Herts gather for briefing as police continue push to tackle child sexual exploitation
- Credit: Archant
Staff from hotels across Herts have been enlisted into the battle against child sexual exploitation after attending briefings at police headquarters and told about the warning signs they should be looking out for.
Specialist officers from HALO, the team dedicated to tackling the issue in Hertfordshire, detailed what makes someone vulnerable to crime during a night out, including theft, assault or sexual offences, and how best to safeguard them.
They also warned that hotels can be places where vulnerable children may be bought to be exploited.
The sessions included scenarios involving exploitation, the signs to look out and how to report it.
Chief Insp Dave Newsome, who leads the Herts force’s team protecting vulnerable people, said: “Working together is the best way of tackling child sexual exploitation and preventing young people becoming a victim.
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“As a team we have been working hard to educate the public and professionals about child sexual exploitation and providing people with the confidence to report their concerns.
“I am grateful for the time given by those from the hotel trade. We have had very positive feedback.
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“These sessions form part of the county-wide Say Something If You See Something campaign, which we run jointly with the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.
“The campaign encourages people to contact authorities if they have concerns about a young person. It is not just hotel workers who can make a difference, we all can - so please do report any issues to Herts Police on 101.”
Hoteliers were encouraged to join the Neighbourhood Watch based scheme, Business Watch, where members can receive bespoke information about crime trends, missing people, or updates about how police are working to tackle crime.
Anyone who missed the sessions can find out more by emailing email@example.com.
Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation is everybody’s business and I’m encouraged to see hotels taking an active role in helping to safeguard people from harm.
“I’d thank them for taking the time to attend. Fortunately the issue is not widespread in Hertfordshire, but it does happen and people should be reassured that there is a specialist team idedicated to tackling it.”
Sexual exploitation is defined as a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity. The abuser may groom the young person into trusting them – either face-to-face or online – and they then exploit this trust for their own gain. Child sexual exploitation can take many forms and victims and perpetrators can be from any social or ethnic background.
Sometimes offenders may get the young person to engage in sexual activity by giving them attention, treats, alcohol, drugs or a place to stay; sometimes they may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them. Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour – it is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
Signs to look out for in a young person include:
Regularly missing from home or care and staying out all night.
Drug or alcohol misuse .
Involvement in offending.
Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations.
Absence from school.
Receipt of gifts from unknown sources.
Recruiting others into exploitative situation.
Poor mental health.
Change in physical appearance.
Friendships with significantly older people.
Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites.
Estranged from their family.