About us

What is the CPSU?

What is the Child Protection in Sport Unit?

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) is a partnership between the NSPCC, Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Wales.

(In Scotland, there's a similar partnership between Children 1st and sportscotland.)

The Unit was founded in 2001 to work with UK Sports Councils, National Governing Bodies (NGBs), Active Partnerships (previously known as County Sports Partnerships) and other organisations to help them minimise the risk of child abuse during sporting activities.

This followed a series of high profile cases of abuse of young athletes by those in positions of trust such as coaches in the sports.

In 2016, the CPSU won UNICEF's Safeguarding in Sport Award for our work safeguarding children in and through sport. 

An introduction to the CPSU

The CPSU helps to achieve the NSPCC mission to protect children and end child abuse

  • find out more about the NSPCC and the many ways it works every day to keep children safe
What we do

Our mission is to build the capacity of sports to safeguard children and young people in and through sport and to enable sports organisations to lead the way in keeping children safe from harm.

We aim to achieve this by:

  • being a lead voice, champion, pioneer UK wide and internationally
  • providing expert safeguarding and child protection advice to sports organisations
  • contributing safeguarding knowledge to their policies, procedures and programmes
  • developing and delivering sports specific training, resources and guidance
  • coordinating, lobbying and advocating on behalf of the sports sector in response to government consultations
  • commissioning and supporting research into a range of issues, developing understanding and an evidence base
  • consulting with children and young people
  • working with international organisations to promote safeguarding work with other countries
How we work

We play the lead role in helping sports organisations to develop and implement their responses, policies and procedures, systems and structures for safeguarding.

Since 2001, we have worked with sport and statutory agencies to ensure that all children, regardless of their level of participation in sport or where they participate, have a safe and enjoyable experience.

We help organisations to:

  • recognise their responsibility to protect children and young people left in their care
  • recognise their responsibility to pass on any concerns about children’s welfare or protection in their families or communities to a statutory agency
  • develop strategies and standards to protect children and young people
  • identify and respond to adults who are a threat to children and young people
  • develop safeguarding knowledge and skills among all staff and volunteers
Meet the team

Meet the CPSU team

Michelle North
Head of CPSUMichelle North CPSU Senior Consultant England

Michelle joined the CPSU team in April 2013 and was appointed as Head of CPSU in April 2020. Prior to this she worked for the NSPCC Safeguarding in Education Service.

Before joining the NSPCC, Michelle was an Education Welfare Officer with over 10 years' frontline experience and later a Senior Manager with responsibility for prosecutions and case management.

She is responsible for managing the unit’s staff across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. She also manages relationships with the respective Sports Councils and with our key partners in sport.

Jude Toasland CPSU Senior Consultant EnglandJude Toasland 
Senior Consultant England

Jude joined the CPSU in 2009. she's worked for the NSPCC since 2000, in training and consultancy and managing direct services for children and young people. Jude is a qualified social worker.

All England Senior Consultants provide safeguarding support to NGBs and Active Partnerships. Jude leads on safeguarding training for sport, which involves consultation, training and liaison with sports organisations, government departments and other sports bodies. Her work also focuses on external communication and equality and diversity in sport.

Carole Billington-Wood  CPSU Senior Consultant EnglandCarole Billington-Wood 
Senior Consultant England

Carole joined the CPSU in 2005. Prior to joining the unit she was Director of Development for British Triathlon.

Having been a youth swimmer and GB International Triathlete, Carole remains a keen sportswoman. She's taught PE, been a coach educator and practitioner in sports development. Carole is currently a specialist member of the National UK Anti-Doping Panel.

All England Senior Consultants provide safeguarding support to NGBs and Active Partnerships. Carole’s role also involves supporting UK Sport organisations in developing their safeguarding work, working with our Wales team members to support Sport Wales funded NGBs and leads our work on elite athlete wellbeing.

Liza Ware CPSU Senior Consultant EnglandLiza Ware
Senior Consultant England

Liza joined the team in March 2018. She's a qualified social worker with 18 years experience.  Prior to joining the CPSU, Liza worked for Lincolnshire Children’s Services, as an advanced Social Worker and previous posts include Children’s Rights manager and Regional Participation Coordinator for Barnardos.

All England Senior Consultants provide safeguarding support to NGBs and Active Partnerships. Liza's work within the team focuses on equality and diversity in sport, involving children and young people and supporting UK Sport bodies with safeguarding guidance.

Paul Stephenson CPSU Senior Consultant Northern IrelandPaul Stephenson
Senior Consultant Northern Ireland

Paul joined the CPSU in 2001. Prior to joining the NSPCC, Paul managed a probation-funded project working with those involved in the criminal justice system. A number of his previous clients were sex offenders with coaching awards. Paul's also worked directly with young people in the care system who have experienced different forms of abuse.

Paul works to support sports governing bodies in Northern Ireland to help them to achieve safeguarding standards and promotes good safeguarding practice. He is also secretary of the Northern Ireland branch of the National Organisation for Treatment of Offenders (NOTA).

Laura Whapham CPSU Senior Consultant WalesLaura Whapham 
Senior Consultant Wales

Laura joined the CPSU in January 2011. Prior to joining the team Laura worked predominantly in the voluntary social care sector with a range of young people with complex needs. This included children with disabilities, young carers and looked after children. She also has a degree in sport and physical education.

Laura works closely with Sport Wales to support the Welsh NBGs with their child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures. She also supports many of the sports through the Safeguarding Standards Framework to enable them to maintain and embed safeguards. Laura also leads on our work around safeguarding deaf and disabled children in sport.

Cerri Dando National Development Officer for WalesCerri Dando
Senior Consultant England and National Development Officer Wales

Cerri works as both a Senior Consultant for England and a National Development Officer in Wales. Before joining CPSU in August 2017, Cerri worked as a Senior Officer at Sport Cardiff and has previous experience as a Lead Officer for a couple of NGBs in Wales.

All Senior Consultants for England provide safeguarding support to NGBs and Active Partnerships. In Wales, Cerri works with the lower funded governing bodies, and leads on training.

Cerri is a part time lecturer for the School of Sport and Health Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University.  Cerri is also a UK Coaching Tutor specialising in safeguarding.

Additional Consultants

From time to time the CPSU has additional consultants working in the team on specific projects.  

Denise Richards is working with Active Partnerships (APs) as part of the Framework for maintaining and embedding safeguarding standards work. She has been carrying out annuals reviews with each AP and supporting them with their safeguarding policies and procedures. She is also working on some good practice around safeguarding at events.

Hannah Mansell
Senior Content Specialist

Hannah has worked for the CPSU since 2007 and took the role of Senior Content Specialist in May 2017.

She manages the content on the CPSU website, working closely with the information officers and the digital producer to develop and review content and find new and informative ways of getting safeguarding information to the sports sector.

Lian Gaten, Mel Addams and Laura Young
Information Officers

Lian began working for the CPSU Information team in 2010, Mel joined in 2016 and Laura in 2019.

The information officers are responsible for making safeguarding in sport information widely accessible through our website and social media.

They also coordinate the development of our e-newsletter, monthly Lead Officer bulletin and help to run the CPSU webinars, podcasts and other digital communication.

John Watson
Digital Producer

John sits in the NSPCC Digital Engagement Team and works to ensure the content on CPSU digital platforms is easy to access and meets the needs of our audience.

John also acts as our link to the wider NSPCC and ensures that safeguarding resources and information are accessible through the CPSU website. 

CPSU Administration team

The CPSU administration team triage all enquiries to the unit. They also administer all CPSU meetings, working groups, training, conferences and events run by the team. 

Strategic work

Sport Safeguarding Partnership 

The CPSU was a driving force behind the creation of the Sport Safeguarding Partnership (SSP), which draws together the major players in UK youth sport with the common goal of improving safeguarding provision in the UK.

2016-2021 strategic plan

The aim of the strategic plan is to safeguard the well-being of all young people in and through sport and physical activity, ensuring everyone has a place to be safe, welcome, included and accessible.

It seeks to embed consistently high safeguarding standards and practices into the culture of the sport and physical activity sector at all levels – from national to local, and from professional to volunteer.

The key objectives of the strategic plan are:

  • to increase commitment and support by all involved in and through sport and physical activity organisations for improving safeguarding standards to ensure a consistent, measured high standard of practice
  • to improve the safeguarding of young people, with particular focus on those most at risk of discrimination, exclusion and abuse in sport and physical activity
  • to increase insight and knowledge about the well-being of young people in sport and physical activity and apply that learning to safeguarding practice

Take a look at our resource library for the full version of the strategic plan

History of the SSP

In 2010, the sports sector responded to a call to action from the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit to identify ways to improve safeguards for children and young people in and through sport in England.

It was supported by every major sports body in England and by key Government departments. It led to the creation of the Strategic Group for the Sports Safeguarding Children Initiative (SSCI). The SSCI mid-project progress report (from October 2013) outlines all of those organisations involved and records the achievements of the group so far.

The group's name changed from the Sports Safeguarding Children Initiative to the Sport Safeguarding Partnership in 2015.