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1 July 2015, 06:18
Hotel bosses in Hertfordshire have been taking on advice by specialist police officers in how to spot signs of Child Sexual Exploitation.
The sessions, held in June, were facilitated by specialist officers from Halo, the team dedicated to tackling CSE in Hertfordshire.
Hoteliers were given essential advice from officers from the Watford Safer Neighbourhood Team about what makes someone vulnerable to crime during a night out, including theft, assault or sexual offences, and how best to safeguard them.
It was followed by a session from the Halo team about Child Sexual Exploitation, highlighting that hotels can be a place where vulnerable children may be bought to be exploited. Representatives were given scenarios of how children can be sexually exploited, followed by the signs to look out for that it might be happening in their hotels and how to report it.
Representatives from Hertfordshire's district and borough councils also attended.
Chief Inspector Dave Newsome who leads the Constabulary's Protecting Vulnerable People team said: "Working together is the best way of tackling child sexual exploitation and preventing young people becoming a victim. 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, and that when they do, provide them with the assurance that they will be listened to.
"I am grateful for the time given by those attendees from the hotel trade to listen to how they can help. We have had very positive feedback from those who attended the sessions.
"These sessions form part of the county-wide awareness raising 'Say Something if you See Something' campaign, which we run jointly with the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children's 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."
Also at the events, 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.
If you run a hotel in the county and were unable to make it to the event and would like to sign up to Business Watch, contact the Watch Liaison Team - firstname.lastname@example.org
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, 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 in the Constabulary dedicated to tackling it."
What is Child Sexual Exploitation?
Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity. The abuser may groom the young person into trusting them - this can be done 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
" Physical injuries
" Drug or alcohol misuse
" Involvement in offending
" Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations
" Absent from school
" Receipt of gifts from unknown sources
" Recruiting others into exploitative situation
" Poor mental health
" Change in physical appearance
" Friends with significantly older people
" Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social networking sites
" Estranged from their family