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Police visiting hotels in London to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation

Hotels across London are being visited by police this week, as part of a role-playing exercise to ensure staff know what action to take if they suspect a guest is booking a room for the purposes of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

To ensure CSE awareness and vigilance remains high at the capital’s hotels following a similar large-scale operation run by police last October, plain-clothes officers have been making unannounced visits to hotels in the company of young people (volunteer police cadets), and attempting to book a room in circumstances which hotel staff should recognise as indicators that child sexual exploitation might be taking place, resulting in them raising the alarm and contacting police.

Many of the venues being attended have previously received training which gives guidance to business proprietors around how to spot the signs of CSE, and what action they should take.

The operation is running in the wake of National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, marked across the country by police forces and other child safeguarding agencies on Monday, 18 March.

Officers from the City of London Police, Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police are also taking part in the operation, with additional support and training from child protection charity Barnado’s.

Detective Inspector Anna Rice, from the City of London Police, said: 

“We all have a role to play in keeping children and young people safe from sexual exploitation. We work closely with our partners in law enforcement, and local businesses and the community to raise awareness of this terrible crime and hope that by working together we can identify, protect and safeguard those who may be at risk.

“We’re lucky in the City that offences of this nature are very rare but our message is clear - together, we can create a better future for vulnerable children and young adults.”

CSE is a form of child sexual abuse and can occur when a young person or group of young people are manipulated or deceived into sexual activity. This can be by an adult but young people can also be exploited by other young people or peer groups. It often involves the young person being offered drugs, alcohol, money or gifts, or friendship in return for engaging in sexual activity.

CSE can be committed through the use of technology without the child realising that they are being exploited. For example, the victim may be persuaded to post sexual images on the internet or send them via their mobile phones.

In the last five years since 2014, crime reporting linked to child sexual exploitation has increased by nearly 50%.

For more information, advice and support, please visit our website.

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