Duty of Care in sport review

Last updated: 30 Mar 2021 Topics: Duty of care

This report, published in April 2017, followed a review of the Duty of Care that sport has towards participants. The review was led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Following the publication of the government’s sport strategy Sporting Future in 2015, the then Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch asked for the review to be undertaken. Although since the publication of the report there has been no formal government response to its overall recommendations, through the sports minister, 2 of the specific recommendations have been taken up.

Safeguarding considerations for unregulated organisations (specifically martial arts)

A project led by Sport England worked in consultation with martial arts governing bodies to develop a safeguarding code for martial arts. The code provides a way for martial arts clubs to demonstrate they have minimum safeguarding arrangements in place.

Positions of Trust

Highlighted in the review is a loophole in the law that means that some adults who hold a position of power over a young person aged 16 and 17 (including sports coaches) can legally have sex with them. This is unlike teachers for whom this would be a serious criminal offence.

In March 2021, the ministry of Justice announced that that law is being extended to see sports coaches and faith leaders included alongside roles like teachers and social workers. Read more about this in our Success for Close the Loophole campaigners news article.

Other key messages and recommendations within the report

Emphasise safeguarding within the governance code

Safeguarding children and adults should be a central pillar in the UK governance code. Its status as an integrity issue should be the same as the other integrity issues which the code seeks to address. There should be clear links between the code and the work of the Duty of Care working group.

A number of sports’ national governing bodies have set up Duty of Care working groups to take up many of the report’s recommendations and to track progress.

Leaders should embrace safeguarding

Safeguarding must be embedded within leadership structures and prioritised by organisations. Accountability for safeguarding needs to be clearly placed at the top of organisations through CEOs, senior management and boards.

Keep children in all activities safe

Consideration needs to be given to how safeguarding requirements can be applied to organisations which may fall outside of the current proposals and which may leave children and adults at risk.

For example, sports and leisure bodies which may not receive public funding provide services to millions of children and adults. They should be subject to the new definition of ‘Duty of Care’ and should be expected to meet safeguarding requirements.

Government needs to play a key role

Central government must play a key role in acting as a point of information, signposting to expert resources and training within the sector.


You can download the full report from the gov.uk website.

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