Hotels can be hotspots for exploiting and trafficking children, no hotel is exempt from this risk so it is important for all hotels to take reasonable steps to protect children from this harm. All hotels should have robust safeguarding policies in place so their staff adhere to the recommended safeguarding steps (see below) to protect children. Failing to do this puts children at risk and premises can become an easy target for criminals to use. Hotels can also suffer financial and reputational damage or run the risk of the revocation of their licence under a Closure Order or prosecution via other child exploitation and trafficking orders. Hospitality premises should also familiarise themselves with Chapter 29 on Licensing under SET Procedures.
Some children have disclosed being abused in hotels and some hotels have spotted the signs and informed the police about exploitation activity. When this happens children can be rescued, freed from exploitation and evidence gathered to prosecute abusers preventing further victims being exploited. Hotels can be used by county lines networks and by those grooming or exploiting children and vulnerable adults.
Essex Police and local councils routinely test hotel safeguarding responses to ensure the hotel staff have an awareness of safeguarding children from exploitation and take reasonable steps to protect children from this harm. Those deemed to be failing to do so could risk having a Closure Notice (Section 76 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014) placed on their business and/or an application made to court for a Closure Order (close the premises for up to three months), or a criminal prosecution against an individual staff member under exploitation and trafficking legislation. Licences could also be reviewed if premises are suspected of being used for child exploitation under Section 51 of the Licensing Act 2003. Licensed premises have a duty to protect children on their premises from harm, including child sexual exploitation (revised guidance was added to the act in 2015) so licenses could be revoked if your premises are failing to protect children from exploitation.
If police suspect a hotel is being used to sexually exploit young people, or other related activities, they have the powers to request a list of the names and addresses of all your customers, including guests of customers using your rooms, failure to comply with this request could result in further action, such as a fine. This is outlined under Section 116-118 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. There are many examples of hotels having licences reviewed, suspended and revoked due to concerns about failing to ensure the welfare of children. Please see links to a selection of cases to the right.
The Essex Safeguarding Children Board in conjunction with Thurrock and Southend Safeguarding Children Partnerships and Essex Police have created this webpage in order to support our business partners to drive out exploitation and trafficking from their hospitality premises to ensure they are safe and reputable premises. It is essential that all staff in hospitality are aware of the signs of exploitation and how to intervene and report this activity. These include receptionists, night porters, housekeeping, duty managers, kitchen and catering staff. We recommend your premises creates clear policies to identify, record and respond to exploitation. We have included a Safeguarding Checklist to assist you with this.