SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN SPORTS

Safeguarding Children and Young People in Sport — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

– in Westminster Hall  on 1st May 2018

"I think that my hon. Friend was referring to someone who has been convicted. We should congratulate the people who came forward and whose cases led to convictions. More cases may follow, and we do not want to go into that area, but my hon. Friend makes a good point about the bravery of the people who came forward.

A predatory individual could simply seek a supervised role with a sports club that would allow them access to children and young people. They could be groomed over a long period and, once the individual had built a trusting relationship with them, they could be exploited and abused. There is evidence to show that adults who have been barred from working with children will continue to try to get access. The NSPCC has discovered that, since the definition of regulated activity was changed in 2012, more than 1,100 people who have been barred from working with children because they pose a threat have been caught applying to work in regulated activity by the DBS. I am not aware of any statistics in relation to unregulated activity.

Sports clubs can find it complex to identify which role should be classified as regulated activity and which should not, and could be at risk of committing an offence of over-checking if they decide to carry out a DBS check with barred list information on an individual in a role that does not require it. It is clear to me that that places sports clubs in a difficult position and that the definition of regulated activity needs to be amended and widened.

Another area that needs re-examining is “Positions of trust”, as defined by sections 21 and 22 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. As the law stands, children are protected from being groomed into sexual relationships by trusted adults with power and influence over them. That applies to teachers, social workers and doctors, but not to sports coaches or youth leaders. That creates ​the absurd situation that, if a physical education teacher teaching football at school engaged in sexual activity with a 16-year-old child, that would be an offence, but if the same individual in a sports coaching role did the same thing outside school, that would not be. There should be no distinction between the two, and the law needs to be changed accordingly."