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'Under-age' girls fled Birmingham hotel before police swoop

2015-01-25 14:30:19


The Birmingham Hotel in Golden Hillock Road

Three suspected under-age girls fled a city hotel in their underwear shortly before police swooped in response to a child sex tip-off, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

Cops were called to The Birmingham Hotel in Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath, after staff reported fears that youngsters were in a room with adult men.

By the time police arrived they found a 17-year-old in the room, who claimed she had been assaulted.

A man was later arrested but no charges followed.

Yet police say CCTV camera footage showed three young girls earlier running away from the same room in their underwear. Despite inquiries, they have never been traced.

The potential Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) incident took place in September.

Just a month earlier The Birmingham Hotel had alerted police after ejecting another 17-year-old girl who had turned up at the hotel with three Asian men, for what a court later ruled was likely to have been CSE-linked abuse.

Her case has now resulted in ten other Asian men being hit with injunctions, banning them from approaching young girls. None of the ten were involved in the September incident, nor did they have any connection to The Birmingham Hotel.

The hotel has stressed it alerted police to both incidents and had been praised at court by a judge for its child protection procedures. Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council has dropped possible injunction applications after agreeing a 'protocol to protect children' with the hotel.

The police swoop took place in September after a tip-off from a member of staff at the hotel.

"Police were called to a hotel on Golden Hillock Road at 9am on September 14, 2014," a West Midlands Police spokeswoman confirmed.

"This followed a report from staff who had concerns that under-age girls were in a room with adult men. Officers attended and found a 17-year-old girl in a bedroom, who alleged she had been assaulted.

"Police examined CCTV footage from the hotel, which showed three other girls running from the room in their underwear. These girls, despite extensive enquiries in the community, with partners and other forces, have not been traced.

"One man was arrested for assault following the incident. However, following investigation no independent evidence could be found and the matter was filed pending fresh information."

Earlier this month a High Court judge overturned a ban on naming The Birmingham Hotel after the case of the ten men, who were suspected of sexually exploiting a 17-year-old girl.

Mr Justice Keehan agreed to lift the restrictions but praised hotel staff who tipped off police after seeing the girl - who was banned from the hotel - leaving the premises with three men last August.

"I make it entirely clear that the hotel at all relevant times acted entirely appropriately and co-operated with the authorities," he said.

However, the judge said it was "perfectly proper" to conclude that the girl was at the hotel "with these three Asian gentlemen for the purposes of child sexual exploitation".

The Sunday Mercury asked West Midlands Police if officers had visited The Birmingham Hotel in the past in connection with enquiries about child sexual exploitation.

Keiley Gartland, the force's Head of News, said: "We have tried to obtain the information you have requested, but this is not achievable in a press office search. On speaking to the LPU (Local Policing Unit) we have agreed that this would have to come in as an Freedom of Information request as it is not something that we can easily facilitate.

She later added: "West Midlands Police CAN provide accurate information as to how many times they have been called to the specific hotel in relation to concerns around Child Sexual Exploitation, however, this would require extensive manual checking of police-held information.

"This would necessitate searching police systems and this information is best requested via the force's Freedom of Information unit, who will consider what information is held in relation to this request and, subject to exemptions under the act, may be released."

The force failed to respond to our further request that it ask its Public Protection Unit for the information.

The Birmingham Hotel had faced a possible injunction as part of the city council’s plans to tackle child sexual exploitation.

But the council dropped the injunction plans after working with the hotel to "agree a protocol which the court indicated was an entirely proper approach to be taken. As a result it was not necessary to pursue the applications for injunctions and by agreement the proceedings were withdrawn.’"

Peter Hay, the council's strategic director for people, also said The Birmingham Hotel had co-operated with officials and added: "We are pleased this has been removed as the sort of location people can use as a venue for the sexual exploitation of children.

"Hotels can often be the frontline of this issue so it is vital they work with us and understand the issues.

"We see this as a way forward and we are currently setting up training for other hotels. We are looking to them and others to work with us to tackle the problem of child sexual exploitation.

"The protocol is based on the Children’s Society's 'Say Something If You See Something' campaign and includes agreement over training staff to recognise warning signs, the operation of CCTV on the premises, the provision of ID and clarification of relationships between adult guests and young visitors.’"

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police has also stated that it is determined to tackle CSE, although the force has controversially refused to release pictures of the ten men named in court documents on public safety grounds.

Its statement added: "West Midlands Police is strongly committed to protecting children and young people from abuse and sexual exploitation, and is working extensively with partners to raise awareness of the issue and also to actively stop those who target vulnerable people.

"A dedicated team of officers has been set up to specifically tackle child sexual exploitation and also investigate online CSE, as well as targeting organised gangs who target children for exploitation.

"In November 2014, a number of Birmingham men, subject to a probe into allegations of CSE, were handed injunctions banning them from contact with girls under the age of 18 in a groundbreaking move. The injunctions were part of a careful and considered policing investigation dealing with CSE.

"In January 2015 the High Court approved an agreement between Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Hotel in Golden Hillock Road with an agreed protocol to protect children.’"

The statement also added future protocols would be based on the Children's Society's 'Say Something if You See Something' campaign.

WHAT THE HOTEL SAYS

A spokesman for the hotel said The Birmingham Hotel had been 'exonerated' at court and praised by the judge for its co-operation with the council and for alerting police to the two incidents.

"There is no evidence of any abuse of any young person taking place at out hotel during our ownership," he said. "The evidence showed that and the council and court know that.

"It was the hotel that initiated contact with the police on both of these occasions. These are the type of actions that Justice Keehan alluded to when he stated that at all relevant times the hotel had acted appropriately and co-operated with the authorities.

"These are actions of a responsible hotel. Crucially, both incidents happened before any court action was taken against."

He added the hotel had a 32-channel CCTV system in place since December 2011 which had "been an important crime prevention tool since then. The hotel had already been taking ID’s and challenging people entering the hotel.’"

THE 10 MEN BANNED FROM CONTACT WITH GIRLS UNDER THE AGE OF 18

Mohammed Anjam

Omar Ahmed

Naseem Khan

Mohammed Javed

Shah Alam

Sajid Hussain

Rahman Aziz

Imran Uddin

Mansur Ahmed

Sarfraz Riaz

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