Hotels in Bicester failed child sexual exploitation tests

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Four out of eight hoteliers in Bicester were willing to sell a room for the night to a fifteen year old girl and an older man - prompting calls for further training in spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation.

Thames Valley Police in partnership with Cherwell District Council carried out child sexual exploitation tests at hotels and guest houses in Bicester.

Similar tests were also carried out in Banbury.

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.

Twenty establishments were visited by Thames Valley Police during the operation.

Four of the eight hotels or guest houses visited in Bicester failed the test and were willing 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 covert police officer.

Sgt Steve Willis of the Bicester Town Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is an issue that Thames Valley Police takes very seriously. We feel it is very important to work with as many different organisations and individuals as possible so that more people can recognise the signs of potential exploitation. Raising awareness with our local hotels and guest houses about CSE can only lead to safer communities for our children.

“CSE can happen to any child, in any city, town or village, which is why Thames Valley Police and Cherwell District Council believe it is important to continue to educate and raise awareness.

“We want to support hoteliers so they can recognise the signs of CSE and prevent children becoming victims.

“Running operations like this allows us to practically test how local businesses react to a potential CSE and we can then use the results of such operations to help shape further staff training.

“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.”

The operation, which was carried out on 2 and 3 February, was a follow up to tests undertaken on 18 March last year.

If you have urgent safeguarding concerns and if you think a child or young person is in immediate danger, please call 999. To speak to Social Care, contact Buckinghamshire’s First Response team by calling 0845 460 0001, or emailing: cypfirstresponse@buckscc.gov.uk