CCTV footage could have helped police investigation into potential child abuse
Management at a hotel in Stevenage has apologized after losing CCTV footage that could have helped a police investigation into potential child abuse.
The licensing department at Hertfordshire Constabulary and Stevenage Borough Council had raised concerns about the Ibis hotel’s ability to meet its licensing requirements after a visit to the hotel earlier this summer.
Officers had attempted to gather evidence after concerns about the safety of a 13-year-old staying at the hotel in June, but were unable to reach the only offsite staff member with access to the system before the footage. have been overwritten.
It was later discovered that CCTV cameras only store footage for a maximum of 17 days, instead of the 28 required on their business license.
After a visit to the hotel, the responsible authorities also expressed their concerns about the lack of an incident log on site and the staff working alone at the reception.
Fairview Hotels, which manages the city’s Ibis hotel, said it worked in partnership with police and city council following the incident to take appropriate action in the future.
A request for a review of the hotel’s license was heard by the Stevenage City Council licensing subcommittee on October 19.
During the meeting, the hotel said it was unaware of the difficulty in accessing CCTV and that more staff are now being trained to ensure any request can be dealt with quickly.
Neil Forbes, Director of Hotels at Fairview Hotels, said:
“I would like to apologize, personally and on behalf of our company, for having to take on this role today.
“We accept that this was totally unacceptable, and we have taken what we hope will be the first action to put ourselves in a position where we are better than we were.”
“Our goal now is that not only does the Ibis take advantage of this situation, but that we disseminate this knowledge in all of our hotels in order to become a safer business and to ensure the safety of all our residents.”
Julia Palmer, representing Fairview Hotels, said the company has already implemented changes, including training staff on the risk of child safety exploitation, limiting the time staff are alone at home reception and upgrading of the CCTV system.
Mr Forbes said staffing was downsized when the hotel reopened after the winter shutdown, but management was not aware of any concerns.
Ms Palmer said:
“My client would very much like to apologize to the committee for appearing before you. This is a long-standing and reputable business licensee, and this operation was not presented to you until today and without the extremely difficult and unusual circumstances due to Covid-19 it was very little likely it will appear in front of you.
“But it does, and the company wants to address it fully, and we believe it has gone beyond what was requested in the terms offer.”
Committee chair Maureen McKay (Labor, Pin Green) said she was “horrified” to see the case come to council.
In its decision, the committee said it remained “extremely concerned” following the hearing, but acknowledged that the hotel had taken constructive steps.
The committee accepted the new conditions set by the responsible authorities.
The new conditions include an expansion of CCTV requirements to include the hotel, rather than just the reception hall and bar.
Hotel management will also need to comply with any police or council video surveillance request within 24 hours, instead of 48 hours.
Management has also agreed to remove the condition that allows the hotel to “off-sale” alcohol, meaning that drinks must be consumed on-site.
The council’s licensing officer had previously recommended that their license be withdrawn for two months while new measures were put in place, but this was withdrawn at the hearing after all parties expressed satisfaction with the measures already taken. .
Police confirmed it was still a live investigation.
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