Success for Close the Loophole campaigners

Last updated: 09 Mar 2021 Topics: Safeguarding children

The CPSU has welcomed the news that the Positions of Trust law is being extended to include sports coaches, this closes the legal 'loophole' and protects 16 and 17 year olds from potential abuse.

The Close the Loophole campaign, run by the NSPCC and backed by many sports organisations, has resulted in the Ministry of Justice extending the law to see sports coaches and faith leaders included alongside roles like teachers and social workers.

This extends the legal protection for 16 and 17 year olds to prevent them being targeted by adults who hold a position of power and influence over them.

The campaign which began in 2017 gained widespread political and public support - including a 4,420-strong petition and support from across the sports sector.

Michelle North, head of CPSU, said:

"I want to say a big thank you to all the sports organisations who have been alongside us throughout this campaign. Your support and sharing your case data really helped push the campaign forward. This really is a win for the whole sports community."

It has been hailed as a ‘landmark step’ for the protection of young people. 

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:

"This landmark step sends a clear message that children and young people can return to the extracurricular activities they love without being at risk of grooming by the very adults they should look to for support and guidance.

“Thank you to everyone who stood up for children and threw their weight behind our campaign. With children set to return to activities in spring and summer, we will be looking at the details behind this announcement very closely."

Hannah* was manipulated into engaging in a sexual relationship with her swim coach when she turned 16. In July, she was supported by the NSPCC to share her experience.

Hannah said:

"Closing the loophole in the law means a huge amount to me. Sports coaches get to know so much about you from such a young age, you grow and develop under their care.

"What happened to me put a strain on all my relationships and affected me deeply. No child should have to fend off the sexual advances of an adult they trust."

*Name has been changed to protect identity