Suffolk hotels fail police child abuse test

Jackson was a serving officer at the time but resigned in July this year Picture: ARCHANT

Police carried out the test at Suffolk hotels last month - Credit: Archant

Police in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich have carried out an operation to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the hotel industry.

On September 18, officers played out a scenario to test the response of local hotels when faced with suspicious behaviour.

Police called on the police cadets, who were 16, to play the role of the vulnerable child. The 'vulnerable child' and the adult would attempt to get a room for the night, indicating that the child was being exploited.

Eight hotels were visited, three in Bury St Edmunds and five in Ipswich, the majority failed to identify the issue.

After being briefed by officers, management and staff quickly learnt from the feedback and accepted training to prevent an incident like this occurring.

This is part of Operation Makesafe, a national campaign across 20 UK forces to raise awareness of exploitation in hotels, licensed premises, and taxi companies.

The purpose of this campaign is to teach people to identify potential victims of sexual exploitation and when to alert the police or intervene.

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Child exploitation is abuse involving a child under 18 being manipulated or coerced by adults or older children. This can occur both online and in the real world.

Often vulnerable children are targeted using emotional, financial, and physical power, including violence and intimidation.

Children are often given gifts, money, alcohol, or drugs in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser or to take part in criminal activity.

Police will continue these visits across different industries, hoping to prevent child exploitation in the county.

Operational lead and commander for the south, Supt Jane Topping, said: "Child sexual exploitation has significant long-lasting impact on victims, primarily young girls. This initiative ensures that those who would exploit children will be challenged by staff. 

"Our multi-agency work through the Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership, which involves police, county council, education and health is crucial in enabling us all to more effectively identify and safeguard those children at risk."

Any hotel that would like this training should please contact Sergeant David Hammatt of Ipswich police at david.hammatt1@suffolk.police.uk   

You can read more about the signs to spot of child sexual exploitation on Suffolk Constabulary's website.

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