Law change to protect teenagers from sexual abuse

Last updated: 29 Jul 2022 Topics: Safeguarding children

From Tuesday 28 June, sports coaches and faith leaders will be recognised in law as being in “positions of trust” and so banned from engaging in sexual activity with under 18s in their care.

This rule already covers professions such as doctors, teachers and carers. It has been extended via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act to apply to those who train, supervise or instruct young people in the fields of sport and religion. Read our briefing paper on Preventing abuse in positions of trust within sport for further information.

The NSPCC have run a long-standing campaign, named Close the Loophole, which is focused on changing the law in this area to protect children from harm and abuse.

Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said:

“We are delighted the new laws which will see sports coaches and faith leaders finally join teachers and social workers as being in “positions of trust” over children in their care will come into force this week. We’re grateful to the courageous young people who bravely shared their stories and our supporters who threw their weight behind our ‘Close the Loophole” campaign to help make this possible.

“By taking this step to close the legal loophole which up until now has allowed some unscrupulous sports coaches and faith leaders to groom and sexually exploit 16 and 17-year-olds in their care, the Government has listened.

“Young people should now be able to undertake more of the extracurricular activities they love without being at risk of grooming by the very adults they look to for support. It is now vital that the Government, criminal justice agencies and all those involved in sports clubs and religious communities invest in ensuring adults and young people are aware of this change and what it means.”

Frequently asked questions

We have developed a briefing paper answering some frequently asked questions about the changes to the law. Experienced NSPCC staff have based their answers on their knowledge of the principles behind the change in the law while we await formal guidance from the Ministry of Justice. 

> Positions of Trust - FAQs about the changes

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