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Hotels praised after follow up to 'shocking' first inspection

Bridgwater town centre

Hotels in Bridgwater have been praised, following an undercover policing operation.

Plain clothed officers visited sites with a young cadet - and tried to book a room - without ID and paying in cash.

Ten of the 11 refused and six of those then called police to report it.

It was the second time the operation has been carried out in the town.

Last time, back in March, ten of the 13 tested booked out a room without asking any questions.

Superintendent Liz Hughes, force lead for Offences against Children, said: "We were left shocked after the first set of visits by the willingness of some hotels to book out rooms in the circumstances.

"As such, I am really pleased with the results the second time round. Our training has clearly made a difference and hotel staff now have the knowledge and confidence to report their suspicions.

"CSE victims often do not recognise they are being exploited and it’s everyone’s responsibility to be alert to the possible signs and to report their concerns.

"We will now look to offer training to more hotels and carry out the exercise in other locations across the force area."

Supt Hughes said: "I’d like to thank the volunteer police cadets who gave up their time to support us with this operation along with our partners who helped facilitate the training.

"The visits were conducted by officers working on Operation Topaz – our partnership approach to tackling CSE which sees agencies share intelligence with the aim of identifying offenders and supporting victims at an earlier stage. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "I was alarmed when we received the results from Operation Topaz and I'm sure it was a wake-up call that businesses and organisations need to get better at spotting the warning signs of CSE.

"I'm delighted with the outcomes of the latest exercise and this shows we need to continue to work closely in partnership and be the ones who ask, ask again and keep asking so we can stop the exploitation of our children."

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