Banbury hotels pass test to spot child sexual exploitation signs

Cherwell District Council Offices,  Bodicote House
Cherwell District Council Offices, Bodicote House

Banbury hotels are becoming better at spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation after every business passed a police and council test.

Cherwell District Council and Thames Valley Police ran a joint test purchase operation in the town on Wednesday (June 27) to find out how good Banbury hoteliers are at spotting dangers for children.

Council licensing officers have been providing months of training, featuring sessions tailored to making improvements at businesses which had failed previous tests.

All the staff tested either refusing the booking or calling the police, which shows the courses are making a difference as 85 per cent of businesses tested passed in 2017 and a 43 per cent passed in 2016.

Cherwell’s executive member with responsibility for licensing, Cllr Andrew McHugh, said: “Banbury hoteliers have been continually improving in their ability to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation.

“This is a fantastic testament to the effectiveness of council training, and to the co-operation we have received from local businesses.

“Safeguarding training is a win-win situation for all involved. It makes Banbury’s hotels more attractive to their customers, and it means vulnerable people are at far lower risk of coming to harm.

“Despite this marked improvement, there is no room for complacency, and council officers will continue to offer support and training to all the businesses which participated.”

The test saw hotel and guest house staff presented with a potential exploitation scenario, in which a plain clothes police officer, aged 40, attempted to book a double room with a 15-year-old child.

The licensing departments at Cherwell and Thames Valley Police both offer free child exploitation training packages to help businesses spot potential incidents and deal with them.

Safeguarding training for hotel and guest house staff includes explanations of legal requirements and of the due diligence required of the licence holder.

The course also covers the risks faced by young people and signs of child sexual exploitation to be aware of.

Businesses requiring assistance with safeguarding matters should contact Cherwell’s licensing department at licensing@cherwell-dc.gov.uk or 01295 753744.

For more information on the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/safeguarding.