Hotels, guest houses and B&B staff in Ceredigion have been made aware of the signs of child sexual exploitation as Dyfed-Powys Police clamp down on those who prey on vulnerable youngsters.
PCSOs Caryl Griffiths and Jeff Kedward visited eight establishments in Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn during the force day of action on Tuesday, October 10, urging staff to be vigilant and encouraging them to report any concerns.
They were asked to look out for signs such as young people booking into hotel rooms with older adults who do not appear to be family members, a lot of adults coming and going to one room, or being bought alcohol by older people.
Chid sexual exploitation – or CSE – is a form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children, and involves a person under 18 being coerced into sexual activities by one or more adults who have deliberately targeted their youth and inexperience to exercise power over them.
Guest houses and B&Bs are sometimes used as locations to meet, groom and abuse children and young people as perpetrators think they can go unnoticed. Perpetrators might pay by cash to avoid leaving a credit card trail, book under one name but check in under another, or have visitors who ask for a room number but don’t know the name of the guest.
Ceredigion BCU commander Robyn Mason said: “It is vitally important that we gain greater knowledge and understanding of child sexual exploitation in order to effectively target activity at local, regional and national level.
“Police officers are being actively trained to recognise the early signs that can identify children at risk, and we are actively encouraging hotel, B&B and guest house staff to be aware of these signs. We all have a role to play in ensuring that children have a safe environment to grow up in.
“Evidence shows that B&Bs and hotels are sometimes used as locations to meet, groom and abuse children and young people, so it’s not just a good idea for people working in this industry to spot the signs of CSE, it’s their responsibility.
“Exploited children are almost always too frightened or ashamed to ask for help themselves, and receptionists, managers and housekeepers are in a unique position to notice when someone or something seems suspicious or might not be quite right with young guests.
“By passing their concerns on to the police they could potentially save a child from the nightmare of CSE.
“We have been visiting these locations, providing advice and guidance to staff members by making them aware of how to spot the signs of CSE.”
Hotel staff who have concerns for the welfare of a young guest are advised to raise concerns immediately with their manager or senior staff, and inform Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101. Management or staff who would like more information about the signs of CSE and what they should look out for can contact their local Neighbourhood Policing Team for more information.