Police have been going undercover in London’s hotels to see how staff react to suspected cases of children being sexually exploited.

Plain clothed officers from the Metropolitan Police have been going into hotels in the capital with young police cadets to ensure staff know what to do if they suspect someone is committing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

The officers made attempts to book a room, often with large amounts of alcohol, trying to pay for the room in cash and refusing to produce any identification.

The Metropolitan Police’s lead for CSE, Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap, said: “This is not an operation designed to catch people out or blame these venues. We want to encourage awareness in a powerful way.

“By carrying out these operations we are keeping the issue fresh in the minds of those who can take positive action, with a view to preventing offences and safeguarding young people.”

The initiative, operation Makesafe, comes as part of a bid to raise awareness of the need to safeguard children.

CSE is a form of child sexual abuse and can happen when a young person or group of young people are manipulated into sexual activity.

A common feature of CSE is that the victims do not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship or see themselves as a victim of sexual exploitation.

Children are unlikely to report the abuse, so the issue remains under reported.

Over the last three years the number of CSE related offenses have nearly doubled from 602 to 1,107.