CSE test exercise conducted in Ipswich and Bury | Suffolk Constabulary

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CSE test exercise conducted in Ipswich and Bury

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Officers have conducted an operation in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the hotel industry.

Child exploitation, is abuse (including sexual abuse) that involves children under the age of 18 being coerced or manipulated into criminal activity with adults or older children. It happens both in the real world and online.

Offenders target vulnerable children and use emotional, financial or physical power over the child to abuse them. Violence and intimidation are often part of the picture. For example, children can be given gifts, money, alcohol or drugs in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser, or made to take part in criminal activity.

On Saturday 18 September officers played out a scenario to test the response of local hotels when faced with suspicious behaviour in their premises in relation to child sexual exploitation.

The force called on the police cadets, who were aged 16 who were playing the ‘vulnerable’ role in the scenario. The scenario involved two individuals, one of which was a cadet, trying to secure a room for the night or just a few hours. The idea being to frame the scenario of a vulnerable child being exploited.  

A total of eight hotels were visited by the cadets during the operation  - three in Bury St Edmunds and five in Ipswich. Overall, the response from the majority of hotels was that they failed to identify the scenario being played out in their reception. An immediate debrief with managers and staff ensured immediate learning and a willingness from the premises to work with the police and accept training in order to better equip their staff in the future.   

Operation Makesafe is a national campaign across 20 police forces across the UK designed to raise awareness at businesses such as hotels, licensed premises and taxi companies. The purpose being to help business owners and their employees identify potential victims of sexual exploitation and where appropriate alert the police or conduct an intervention to prevent a young person coming to harm. 

As part of the operation each visit to hotel premises was followed up by an immediate debrief with the management and staff involved offering feedback to their response. To continue the initiative and re-inforce the warning signs, police will offer each of the business visited additional training and campaign material such as posters in order to raise awareness with their staff. 

Officers will also continue to conduct visits across different aspects of the industry in the coming months in order to disrupt and identify activity, with the ultimate aim to prevent child exploitation in the county.

Operational lead Supt. Jane Topping and who is commander for the south, including Ipswich said: "Child sexual exploitation has significant long lasting impact on victims, primarily young girls. This initiative ensures that those who would exploit children will be challenged by staff working within the hotel industry allowing police to take action. 

"A lot of detailed and complex preventative work is taking place to ensure children are safeguarded from harm and from falling into a life of crime and exploitation and it sees us working with a number of partner agencies, taking an holistic approach. Our multi-agency work through the Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership, which involves police, county council, education and health is crucial in enabling us all to more effectively identify and safeguard those children at risk of sexual or criminal exploitation.” 

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Tackling child sexual exploitation has to be a top priority to protect young victims and prevent more young people becoming victims of this horrific crime.  We all have a part to play in protecting our young people from those who may attempt to target and exploit them.”

"Education is key.  Ensuring relevant businesses, such as the hospitality industry, are aware of this wicked crime and can identify the signs of child exploitation will make a huge difference.  I would encourage other hotels to contact the Constabulary to arrange training for their staff to give them the information they need to challenge and report unusual scenarios to the police.

"I fully support this preventative work being carried out by Suffolk Constabulary and would like to express my gratitude to the young cadets who are getting involved in this important work.”

Any hotel who would like training to raise awareness amongst their staff of child exploitation should please contact Sergeant David Hammatt of Ipswich police.  [email protected]    

You can read more about the signs to spot of child sexual exploitation  Child Sexual Exploitation | Suffolk Constabulary

Important: If you think a child is in immediate danger; contact us straight away by calling 999.

Parents can visit 

 for further information and links to support and advice services

Parents can visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre's (CEOP) 'Thinkuknow' website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information.

Childnet is an organisation working to make the internet a safe place for children and has useful information for parents and schools http://www.childnet.com/ 

If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards your child, you can report this directly to CEOP via www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre.