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What are essentially the most common crimes in hotels? Not theft, say UK police

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“Violence against one other person” is by far essentially the most common criminal offense reported in U.K. hotels, latest data shows. 

Statistics from eight police forces across the U.K. show there have been 4,589 allegations of violence and 1,307 of public disorder — which frequently involves intimidation or the specter of violence — in hotels, motels and guesthouses from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.

That is greater than the three,999 reports involving theft, robbery and burglary.

There have been 1,206 reports of arson and criminal damage, and 1,107 reports of rape and other sexual offenses. Several cases of recent slavery (three) and murder or attempted murder (three) were also reported in the course of the period. 

The figures got here from freedom of data requests, seen by CNBC, to the ten largest police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Police services in Bristol and Scotland declined to supply data, in accordance with a summary of the outcomes seen by CNBC.

‘Magnets for crime’ 

Brian Moore, operations director at hotel security consultancy Global Secure Accreditation, told CNBC that hotels are “magnets for crime.” 

“You have big buildings filled with people who find themselves often in a rustic or area they do not know, so that they are a fish out of water. There could also be a language barrier, and so they are frequently relaxed and have their guard down,” said Moore, a former senior police officer who oversaw the London Olympics as director-general of the U.K. border force. 

For instance, travelers often leave their belongings lying around in hotel bars and restaurants while they check with people, he said.

“But given these are public spaces, it’s no different to leaving something on a bus,” said Moore.

When asked concerning the U.K. figures, Moore said, “I feel most individuals can be surprised at the quantity of crime for the reason that U.K. is comparatively secure. Hotels pride themselves on being secure and secure, and lots of people think they’re.” 

With incidents of violence, the cause is commonly alcohol.

Brian Moore

Operations director, GS Accreditation

In his experience, nearly all of violent crimes occur between individuals who know each other — although this will include individuals who met within the hotel — whereas “acquisitive crimes” like fraud, theft, robbery and burglary are likely to be committed against strangers. 

“With incidents of violence, the cause is commonly alcohol,” Moore added. “Hotels are places where people are likely to over-imbibe, often at times when the least staff and security can be found. Staff can break up a gathering however the drinking can proceed back in guest rooms.”

The best way to stay secure

Hotels must make sure that only individuals with a legitimate should be there have access, in accordance with Moore.

Elevators and room corridors should only be accessible via an electrical swipe card and have good CCTV coverage. Small hotels, which can not give you the option to supply these items, are usually not necessarily more dangerous, he notes, so long as they’ll differentiate guests from non-guests.

Hotel guests should store valuables in room safes, and exercise caution when using a hotel’s Wi-Fi.

Boy_anupong | Moment | Getty Images

It’s harder to secure public spaces while maintaining a welcoming environment, said Moore. But a staff member who approaches someone who looks suspicious, even with just with a friendly word, can deter a possible thief or fraudster, he said.

Guests can improve security by:

Using hotel Wi-Fi

Hotel Wi-Fi is a notorious goal for scammers, said Lee Whiteing, industrial director at Global Secure Accreditation.

Guests should avoid making transactions, entering passwords or opening secure information while connected to it, Whiteing said. Those that use VPNs, or virtual private networks, shouldn’t access sensitive material before logging in, he added.

Hotel guests must also ensure they’re connecting to the hotel network and never a similarly named, fake one.  

Whiteing recalled running a software test in various hotels to see if anyone would try and access his team’s laptops. In essentially the most extreme case, a laptop was attacked 600 times in 24 hours, he said.

Business travelers

Whiteing, who’s the previous global head of travel at HSBC Bank, also told CNBC that there’s a growing awareness that corporations need to extend worker safety in relation to business travel. He also said corporations may be liable in the event that they fail to reduce certain risks.

The non-governmental organization ISO, which comprises 167 national standards bodies, recently released a paper identifying threats, risk and prevention strategies that corporations can use to administer business trips.

“Historically, checks on accommodation haven’t all the time been done well,” Whiteing said. “If an organization sent a security checklist to a hotel, there was little done to confirm the answers they gave.”

But an employer has an obligation of care when it sends staff abroad or to a different city, he said.

“Independent checks should be done.”

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