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Hospitality industry gets help to spot abuse

13 September 2013

STAFF working in hotels, shops, and restaurants need help to spot signs that children on their premises may be subject to exploitation, grooming, and trafficking, the Children's Society said this week.

In partnership with a charity tackling child sexual exploitation, National Working Group, it has launched a campaign pack, Say Something if You See Something, that contains training materials. Besides helping employees in the hospitality industry to spot signs of abuse, it will help employers to carry out risk assessments, and vet staff.

The pack was launched on Tuesday at an event in Parliament attended by the Home Office Minister Damien Green.

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "Preventing child sexual exploitation is everybody's business, not just the police or social workers'."

Also on Tuesday, Mr Green responded to an inquiry by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on child sexual exploitation and localised grooming. The committee's report, published in June, identified "catastrophic multi-agency failures" in some local authorities, and warned that "there are still places in the UK where victims of child sexual exploitation are being failed by statutory agencies."

On Tuesday, Mr Green said: "Since the HASC published its inquiry, progress has been made. The police are more engaged, aware, and determined to identify victims. In the past, all too often, these crimes were largely hidden, and now child sexual exploitation is rightly centre-stage as an issue we must tackle. We will continue to work to ensure victims are not left to suffer in silence, and ensure that those who exploit them are brought to justice."

On Wednesday, the acting policy director at the Children's Society, Ellen Broome, said that the Government had missed an opportunity to "set out a concrete plan for how they will make sure local agencies fully implement central guidance. . . Leaving it up to local agencies has failed before, and more of the same is likely to fail again."

The interim report of the Children's Commissioner's inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups, published last year, includes a list of the places most frequently referred to as locations of abuse by those who gave evidence. These included parties, vehicles, private houses, and homes, but food outlets, hotels, B&Bs, and shopping centres also featured.

Evidence submitted to the Children's Commissioner's inquiry suggested that at least 16,500 children were at risk of sexual exploitation in one year.

Home Office report published. Trafficked children are being treated with suspicion and prejudice by statutory agencies, and exposed to a variety of forms of maltreatment, a report by the Refugee Council and Children's Society, commissioned by the Home Office and published on Thursday, suggests.

Researchers interviewed 17 young people who were trafficked as children, and had escaped. Three of them had been sent to adult prison after being prosecuted for offences - including immigration offences - committed while they were under the control of traffickers.

The report concludes that there is an absence of understanding of child trafficking at all levels in local authorities and within other associated professions.

It is estimated that 2077 people were potential victims of trafficking in the UK in 2011, of which 24 per cent were children.

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