‘Violence against another person’ is by far the most common criminal offense reported in UK hotels, according to new data.
Statistics from eight police forces across the UK show there have been 4,589 allegations of violence and 1,307 of public disturbances – often involving intimidation or the threat of violence — in hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.
That’s more than the 3,999 reports of theft, burglary and burglary.
There were 1,206 reports of arson and criminal damage, and 1,107 reports of rape and other sexual offences. Several cases of modern slavery (three) and murder or attempted murder (three) were also reported during the period.
The figures come from freedom of information requests, seen by CNBC, to the 10 largest police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Police departments in Bristol and Scotland declined to provide data, according to a summary of the results seen by CNBC.
Brian Moore, chief operating officer of hotel security consultancy Global Secure Accreditation, told CNBC that hotels are “magnets for crime.”
“You have big buildings full of people who are usually in a country or region they don’t know, so they’re a fish out of water. There might be a language barrier, and they’re usually relaxed and let their guard down,” said Moore, a former senior police officer who oversaw the London Olympics as director general of Britain’s Border Force.
For example, travelers often leave their belongings lying around in hotel bars and restaurants while they talk to people, he said.
“But given that these are public spaces, it’s no different than leaving something on a bus,” Moore said.
Asked about the UK figures, Moore said: “I think most people would be surprised at the level of crime because the UK is relatively safe. Hotels pride themselves on being safe and secure, and a lot of people think they are.”
In his experience, the majority of violent crime occurs between people who know each other – although this could include people who met at a hotel – while “acquired crimes” such as fraud, theft, robbery and burglary tend to be committed against strangers.
“With incidents of violence, the cause is often alcohol,” Moore added. “Hotels are places where people tend to drink too much, often at times when the fewest staff and security are available. Staff can break up a gathering, but alcohol consumption can continue in rooms.”
Hotels must ensure that only people with a legitimate need to be there have access, according to Moore.
Elevators and hallways to rooms should only be accessible via an electric keycard and have good CCTV coverage. Smaller hotels, which may not be able to provide these things, aren’t necessarily more dangerous, he notes, as long as they can tell guests from non-guests.
Hotel guests should store valuables in safes and exercise caution when using hotel Wi-Fi.
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It’s harder to secure public spaces while maintaining a welcoming environment, Moore said. But a staff member who approaches someone who looks suspicious, even with just a friendly word, can deter a potential thief or fraudster, he said.
Customers can improve security by:
- ensure that bedroom doors have self-closing mechanisms and double locks
- bring or request a door wedge to add an extra layer of security
- use the room safe and keep an eye out for valuables in public areas
- never say your room number out loud; this prevents someone from approaching reception and trying to get a key by pretending to know the guest.
Hotel Wi-Fi is a notorious target for scammers, said Lee Whiteing, chief commercial officer at Global Secure Accreditation.
Customers should avoid making transactions, entering passwords or opening secure information while logged in, Whiteing said. Those using VPNs, or virtual private networks, should not access sensitive material before connecting, he added.
Hotel guests should also ensure that they are connecting to the hotel network and not a fake one of the same name.
Whitening recalls running a software test at various hotels to see if anyone would try to access his team’s laptops. In the most extreme case, a laptop was attacked 600 times in 24 hours, he said.
Whiteing, who is the former global head of travel at HSBC bank, also told CNBC that there is a growing awareness that companies need to increase employee safety when it comes to business travel. business. He also said companies can be held liable if they fail to minimize certain risks.
The non-governmental organization ISO, which includes 167 national standards bodies, recently published a paper identify threats, risks and prevention strategies that companies can use to manage business travel.
“Historically, accommodation checks haven’t always been done well,” Whiteing said. “If a company sent a security checklist to a hotel, little was done to verify the answers they gave.”
But an employer has a duty of care when sending workers overseas or to another city, he said.
“Independent checks must be carried out.”