Two men held on suspicion of trafficking children from Hove hotel

Posted On 24 Jan 2023 at 3:21 pm

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking children from a hotel in Hove which is being used by the Home Office to house unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

They were held and released under investigation last summer, Sussex Police said today (Tuesday 24 January) and three children “were taken into the care of the Home Office”.

The details emerged after the incident was mentioned by the Labour MP for Hove, Peter Kyle, in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Mr Kyle was speaking after the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, asked an urgent question after a report by The Observer’s home affairs editor Mark Townsend at the weekend.

The Observer quoted a whistleblower from Mitie, the Home Office’s security contractor at the Hove hotel, saying: “Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found. They’re being taken from the street by traffickers.”

Sussex Police said this afternoon: “Since the Home Office began housing asylum-seekers in hotels in Brighton and Hove in July 2021, 137 unaccompanied children have been reported missing.

“Of these, 60 have been located and 76 remain under investigation. One has been transferred to a neighbouring force.

“We have received no reports of people being kidnapped from the hotels.

“On (Wednesday) 25 May 2022, we received a report of two children housed at one of the hotels getting into a car near by.

“The vehicle was stopped on the M25 and two men were arrested on suspicion of intent to commit human trafficking.

“Three young passengers were taken into the care of the Home Office. Both suspects have been released under investigation. The investigation is ongoing.

“When people go missing, our primary role is to investigate the circumstances including assessing if they are vulnerable or could have been a victim of crime.

“If risks to their safety are identified, we and other appropriate parties will take action to safeguard them.

“Once a person is located, where criminality is associated with either the initial disappearance or subsequent harbouring of those wishing to remain missing, Sussex Police will assess and take positive action as appropriate.

“We continue to work with the Home Office to help put prevention measures in place, including multi-agency safeguarding meetings with other partners, to ensure that, when people are reported missing, we have the best opportunity to locate them.”

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