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West Sussex Missing Persons Team - Hotel Watch

West Sussex Division set up a dedicated Missing Person’s Team in 2014 to deal with missing people, absentees and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) cases across West Sussex.

The Missing Person’s Team are part of a multi-agency approach, working with councils, Barnardos, the Missing People charity, and social care, developing and implementing strategies which look to reduce patterns of repeat missing behaviour for both children and adults.

Evidence suggests that a number of adults and children who go missing use hotels during their periods of absence. Hotels are also often used as locations where perpetrators meet, groom and abuse children (both boys and girls).

Exploited or missing children and adults are almost always too terrified or ashamed to ask for help themselves, therefore receptionists, managers and housekeepers are in a unique position to notice when someone or the circumstance of some guests seems suspicious or does not seem right.

What is Hotel Watch?

Hotel Watch is a scheme that has been set up in many towns and cities across the country which sees police and hotel partners sharing information.

One very successful Hotel Watch scheme currently in Sussex is at Gatwick Airport and it is the success of this scheme which has seen the launch of a similar scheme for the West Sussex Missing Person’s’ Team.

The scheme aims to:

  • Create an information sharing platform between hotels and the West Sussex Missing Person’s Team.
  • To encourage the sharing of information and intelligence.
  • Improve the response time in finding Missing People and potential CSE victims who find themselves in hotels.
  • Identify and minimise potential crime trends – targeting vulnerable locations/hotspots and engage with the community to solve long term problems.
  • Promote the aim to work towards a safer environment in the hospitality industry.
  • To work in partnership with businesses to build stronger communities.
  • To identify where vulnerability training and awareness may need to take place including CSE resources /advice.
  • To prioritise resources to focus on the greatest risks and the most vulnerable.
  • To improve best practise and increase public/victim confidence.

How is this achieved?

Hotel Watch messages will be delivered through the Sussex Police ‘In the Know’ System. The ‘In the know’ messaging system is a secure system used by Sussex and Surrey Police. In addition to signing up to the Hotel Watch scheme you also have the opportunity to find out what is happening in your local area – witness appeals, crime updates, crime prevention advice and news.

Hotel details will only be used to share relevant information from the West Sussex Missing Person’s team. The Hotel Watch scheme could effectively save time, resources, money and potentially lives, and also allows police to prevent and detect CSE.

The hope is that by sharing prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity and working together, the scheme can greatly help identify, protect and safeguard those who may be at risk.

Sign-up to Hotel Watch with your business details (ensure you tick the ‘Accommodation’ box to receive Hotel Watch updates.)

Read our CSE pages for further information.