Hotels could be monitored for signs of sexual exploitation in Northampton, report reveals

More should be done to monitor hotels in Northampton for signs of children being taken there for sexual purposes, a cross-party committee has recommended.

Thursday, 27th April 2017, 2:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:37 pm
A hotel watch scheme could be set up in Northampton to monitor for signs of sexual exploitation.

A scrutiny panel set up to find out how Northampton Borough Council could do more in the fight to prevent child sexual exploitation in the town has released a final draft of its report this week.

The cross-party selection of councillors conducted enquiries between March 2016 and March 2017 in order to make a series of recommendations.

Among them the panel has advised ward councillors "take positive steps" persuade schools in their patches to watch the recent hard-hitting Kayleigh's Love Story video, which details the last 13 days of 15-year-old grooming victim, Kayleigh Haywood.

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But the panel also felt more could be done, in partnership with police, to monitor hotels in the town, that could be used by paedophiles to meet with children they had met.

The report goes on to say council officers and the police have been in discussions about setting up a "hotel watch" scheme in Northampton.

Authorities in Oxfordshire are already running a similar scheme, whereby an adult and child can be sent into premises as test purchasers try and book a room.

If successful, council officers are then asked to approach the hotel and work with them to ensure they recognise the signs of a child being sexually exploited.

The report states: "The scrutiny panel felt that there is a need to keep a 'watching eye' on known hotspots in the town."

During the drawing up of the report, the scrutiny panel held interviews with cabinet members, senior staff at Northampton Borough Council and a number of external expert witnesses.

Among its recommendations, the report states council officers should all be issued with a copy of the Local Government Association's guidance on recognising victims of grooming.

Staff at the council and Northampton Partnership Homes, which manages the authority's social housing, should all receive increase training to report the signs.

The draft report is due to be discussed at the next overview and scrutiny committee meeting at the Guildhall on Monday, May 8.