Police training Northamptonshire’s hospitality businesses to spot signs of child exploitation and abuse

Hotels, pubs and cafes can be hotspots for predators

Friday, 15th July 2022, 7:44 pm

Police have developed bespoke training for Northamptonshire’s hospitality industry to help staff spot signs of child abuse.

Makepiece is a long-running operation targeting sexual and criminal exploitation in the community — particularly hotels, pubs and cafes.

Detective Sergeant Gary Turvey said: “Hotels we visited told us they would welcome further police input and direction around best-practice.

Chld exploitation often takes place in hotels

Officers follow-up training by testing venues using undercover police acting as a stooge and a police cadet volunteer.

Police Sergeant Andy Shears said: “The stooge and cadet are briefed in advance before approaching the venue and would ask to book a room.

“Obvious cues would be provided to the hotel staff that should arouse suspicion as to a potential exploitation risk.

“This training not only helps staff be alert, it also helps hotels develop policies around safeguarding, exploitation risks, signs and trends.

"Any local hoteliers who haven’t yet taken advantage of the training we offer should get in touch so they can do their bit to keep county youngsters safe.”

Staff at Corby’s Holiday Inn are among the hotels already benefiting from the training.

Operations manager Anne Grant said: “This is not about catching people out or blaming hotel venues, it’s about raising our awareness of exploitation and the warning signs.

"It reinforced the need for us to be professionally curious and if something doesn’t look right to have the confidence to challenge behaviour and call the police.”

Women and Girls are disproportionately affected by violent crimes and abuse which is why violence against women and girls is one of four Matters of Priority for Northamptonshire Police for the next three years — alongside drug harm, serious and organised crime and serious violence.

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Detective Chief Inspector Nickie Deeks, force lead for violence against women and girls, said: “We know that exploitation 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 will continue our efforts to make sure people employed in these environments are able to spot warning signs and can easily report their concerns.

“We would far rather someone alerted us and it be a false alarm than to miss a chance to safeguard a vulnerable person.”