A Leamington hotel has had its licence to serve alcohol suspended following police concerns about child welfare.
The Falstaff Hotel in Warwick New Road will be unable to serve alcohol on the premises for three months, effective from October 24 2018.
The suspension comes after the hotel after failed to satisfy the Warwick District Council Licensing Committee that it was taking adequate measures to train its staff in identifying child welfare concerns.
A child protection investigation was launched in April after police discovered four teenage girls aged between 14 and 16 in a hotel room with two young men and a teenage boy. Two of the girls, both aged 14, had been reported missing to the Police.
Police were concerned that staff hadn’t identified any cause for concern or taken any actions to protect the welfare of the vulnerable girls. They were also concerned that staff had not been taking the incident or subsequent investigation seriously enough.
Following this, police made concerted efforts to offer child protection training to the staff, but this offer was not taken up to the satisfaction of the Licensing Committee.
The Fire Service also raised concerns in relation to an inadequate fire alarm system and compartmentation within the premises. In the event of a fire emergency, the above, coupled with poor fire management procedures indicated that occupants would not reach a place of safety within a suitable period of time.
Giving evidence to the Licensing Committee, Sergeant Calver from the Warwickshire Police Harm Hub said: “It would appear to Warwickshire Police from the investigation that there is a lack of management and staff taking the incident and investigation seriously.”
Councillor George Illingworth, Chairman of Warwick District Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “Warwick District Council work in partnership with Warwickshire Police and relevant agencies to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable people.
"The Licensing Committee will not hesitate to take action as and when required, and given the seriousness of the potential issue raised, the committee made the decision to remove the alcohol license at The Falstaff Hotel for three months in order to address the concerns raised by Warwickshire Police.”
Detective Inspector Jill Fowler said: “People working in the hospitality industry have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of children. They quite often see suspicious activity and behaviour that they have a duty to report to police.
“Where business owners don’t take these responsibilities seriously the police and local authority have powers to suspend their licence. We can and do use this power to ensure vulnerable children are protected.
“We have been working in partnership with Barnardos since 2014 to offer training to staff working in the hospitality industry to help them identify child welfare issues. This training is free of charge and we would urge businesses to take advantage of it to help them protect some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“Over a three-year period we made extensive efforts to offer staff at the Falstaff Hotel this training but as we demonstrated to the licensing committee this was not taken up to our satisfaction and it became clear to us that the management at the hotel were not taking their responsibilities seriously.
"We felt we had no option but to make an application to suspend their licence until these concerns could be addressed.”
Roland Bayley from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We work with all businesses in Warwickshire, checking premises to ensure fire risk assessments and fire prevention measures are appropriate.
“When business owners put their staff and guests at risk of harm from fire and fail to improve their safety standards, it’s our duty to work with partners to intervene to ensure the highest levels of safety for the public.”