Surrey

Father-daughter trip sparks Chertsey Travelodge alert

Craig Darwell with his daughter Millie Image copyright Facebook/Craig Darwell
Image caption Craig Darwell said the situation could have been avoided

A father who was reported to police after he checked into a Travelodge with his 13-year-old daughter has called for changes to hotel booking systems.

Craig Darwell wants hotels to introduce ID procedures for underage visitors after the incident in Chertsey.

Surrey Police were called to the hotel last Thursday over misplaced fears for his daughter's safety.

Travelodge has since apologised and said its staff were trained based on current national guidelines.

Christmas present

Mr Darwell, from Leeds, said there was only a double room available when he booked the room online for a trip to Thorpe Park - a Christmas present for Millie.

When staff questioned him on arrival, he said he could only show them his Facebook profile which had pictures of Millie as a baby and on her 13th birthday.

He said the most upsetting part was when the police officer talked to her.

"My daughter looked at me and said 'dad' because she thought I'd rung the police," he said.

'Crying her eyes out'

He said the officer explained the hotel manager had called police before asking Millie if he was her father and whether she had any photos.

"We were going out to tea. We were going to make a night of it. She was in the room crying her eyes out. She couldn't come out of the bedroom," he said.

Mr Darwell believes the situation could have been avoided if the online booking system had requested ID for an underage visitor.

"At the point of booking, when I booked online, if I could have flagged up that somebody's underage, that I need to put some ID in, either a passport or a birth certificate, and I need to put it in at that point and bring it with me," he said.

A Travelodge spokesman said: "We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously.

"Our colleagues are trained based on current national guidelines from the NSPCC, the police and other agencies and in the past, hotel team actions have led to successful intervention to protect young people."

He added the company was undertaking a full investigation.

A spokeswoman for Surrey Police said officers were called by a member of staff at the Travelodge in Chertsey following a concern for safety and added: "Officers attended, no arrests were made, and no further action was required."

She added: "Local and national evidence shows that child sexual exploitation can take place in hotel environments.

"We continue to work with the hotel industry, taxi companies and licensed premises to make them aware of possible warning signs of children at risk."

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