15/07/2022- Safeguarding/Welfare

Changes to Position of Trust Legislation

Important changes have been made to the Position of Trust legislation on 29th June 2022.

On 29th June 2022 there was a significant change in the legislation relating to Position of Trust, which has been part of a long standing campaign by the NSPCC and sports organisations. This means that all coaches are now in a position of trust under criminal law and therefore come within the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

What has changed?

Prior to 29th June 2022, while sections 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 made it illegal for an adult in a Position of Trust to engage in sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old, this only related to roles such as doctors and teachers but did not include coaches or faith leaders.

The new section 22A of the Sexual Offences Act has been extended to widen the definition of “position of trust” to include any adult that regularly coaches, teaches, trains, supervises, or instructs a 16 or 17-year-old in a sport. This means that it brings any coach within the definition of position of trust and therefore subject to the sanction of the criminal law.

British Fencing has long considered it to be against our safeguarding policies and code of conduct for a person in a position of authority or influence to form an inappropriate relationship with a 16- or 17-year-old and we would have taken appropriate action. Now that may include criminal action.

Why has the law changed?

Adults who regularly coach, teach, train, supervise, or instruct a child in a sport or religion have a significant influence on the development of a child. They engender considerable trust, influence and responsibility across the sporting community. As a result, even if the young person does not perceive the relationship to be abusive or exploitative, there is a major power imbalance between the adult and the child, which can amount to a misuse of the adult’s position of trust and leaves the young person vulnerable to manipulation and grooming.

What should you do now?

Please make people in your club or organisation aware of this change and where they can find additional information such as the Child Protection in Sport Unit.

If you have any queries, please contact the Lead Safeguarding Officer on [email protected].

If you have a concern about a person in a position of trust, please report the matter immediately.

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