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Editor’s Viewpoint: Child Exploitation – A Lesson To Be Learned?

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

Once again the first part of the year has proved very busy for those of us at CLH News – we have been up and down the country exhibiting at many national and regional exhibitions! Hopefully the past few weeks have been equally busy and productive for all our readers!

I am not too sure of the full details surrounding a story on our website, other than what I have seen in the news. However, I would say my sympathies do lie with the hotel group, Travelodge.

The story centres on a man who had booked a double room with his teenage daughter, as part of a trip to Thorpe Park. However, he was questioned at the hotel and asked to provide proof they were father and daughter, after which the police were called.

I’m not too sure how this situation was handled and how it came to quickly get so “out of hand”. However, readers may recall a story run on our website and in our March issue of CLH News regarding experiments conducted by Oxford police where they carried out “Child Exploitation” tests.

A plain clothes policeman booked into various hotels with a 15-year-old girl, without being questioned.

Deputy Police Commander for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire local police area, Ch.Insp Emma Garside said: “In every case where it is believed that a customer is seeking to obtain a hotel room for a person under 18 years of age, staff should ask for identification of all guests and contact police immediately with their concerns.”

So, what happens when a hotel followed this advice? Well, judging by headlines in mainstream newspapers “Outrage”!

This very difficult and emotive issue has clearly put hotel policy in the firing line, I was very disappointed to see some of the headlines which have inflamed the situation.

We live in very different times now, grooming, particularly online features regularly in the news. Having a policy and following police guidelines should be something to be commended and not attacked.

I did notice when I read these stories online that the comments posted by the public were overwhelmingly in support of the hotel and it stance – “Better safe than sorry” was a phrase that popped up very often.

I very much hope this is not a reason for Travelodge or any other hotel to change its policy regarding child exploitation. If anything, I think this is a lesson to be learned “how to deal with it”, as opposed to whether or not to instigate a policy.

Handled more evenly, with a bit more empathy towards the parent, a full explanation as to why the hotel undertakes such a policy, perhaps backed up with a written policy explanation for the father to see could have avoided the confrontational “fallout”. Plus of course, ensuring that each member of staff is fully trained in not only spotting the potential child exportation issue, but in dealing more sympathetically with innocent members of the public when they questioned!

Once again would be very interested in your views, have you have had a similar situation? And how do you deal with it?

Peter Adams
Editor, CLH News

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