Numerous hotels and guest houses in Banbury and Bicester, both in Oxfordshire, have failed child exploitation tests carried out by Thames Valley Police.
In partnership with Cherwell District Council, police visited 20 establishments during the operation which took place on 2 and 3 February. The objective of the operation was to test the reaction of front of house staff when a man and girl attempt to book a room.
Four out of eight hotels or guest houses visited in Bicester failed the test after they agreed to rent a room overnight to a 15-year-old girl and a plain clothes police officer, without checking the identification of either the girl or man. In Banbury, five establishments failed the test, with six stating they were full or did not have staff available to make a booking. Only one establishment denied the couple a room.
Sergeant Steve Willis of the Bicester Town neighbourhood policing team said: “We want to support hoteliers so they can recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation and prevent children becoming victims.
“We will work with the businesses that failed the test to ensure they check identification when an adult attempts to book a room with a child. It was pleasing to see that some hotel staff asked probing questions to our covert police officer and the girl, and then subsequently reported their concerns to the police. This is exactly what we want to see and they have set the benchmark that we want some of the others to now reach.”
Deputy police commander for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire local police area, chief inspector Emma Garside, added: “The results of this test purchasing operation show valuable lessons are still to be learned. In every case where it is believed that a customer is seeking to obtain a hotel room for a person under 18 years of age, staff should ask for identification of all guests and contact police immediately with their concerns.”
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