It will be illegal for sports coaches and faith leaders to have sex with young people under 18

Plans to close the legal loophole have been proposed to the Government, making it illegal for sports coaches and faith leaders to have sexual relationships with 16 and 17-year-olds who are in their care.

The new amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was announced in Parliament on March 9th, after the NSPCC‘s ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign had built both political and public support for the law change since launching in 2017.

Audio: Baroness Grey-Thompson talks about grooming in sport.

The legal loophole in the Position-of-Trust law, which currently applies to roles including teachers and doctors, will be extended to cover sports coaches and faith leaders.

Although the age of consent is 16, the new law will mean that it will be a criminal offence for people in these professions to engage in sexual relationships with young people under the age of 18.

After the success of his charity’s campaign, Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, had hailed the decision as a “landmark step.”

The NSPCC started campaigning for the law change in 2017 [Credit: NSPCC]
“We are delighted that after relentless campaigning, the Government has finally listened to our calls and agreed to close this legal loophole.”

“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,” he said.

The NSPCC’s campaign has attracted attention from politicians in both houses of Parliament, with former Paralympic gold medalist and member of the House of Lords Baroness Grey-Thompson helping to lead the campaign for the law amendment.

Along with MP’s Sarah Champion and Tracey Crouch, Baroness Grey-Thompson has spent the past five years campaigning to make it illegal for sport coaches to coerce young people under the age of 18 into having a sexual relationship with them.

“i will do everything in my power to make sure that both chambers understand the power dynamic that exists in sport”

baroness grey-thompson, house of lords

During Baroness Grey-Thompson’s time in sport, she has heard from young women who have experienced coercive relationships by their sports coaches.

“The cases that have come to me are a coach who’s in their mid-thirties, who has coached the young woman since she was nine, and on the day of her sixteenth birthday turns up with a bunch of flowers and says I want to go out with you,” she added.

Baroness Grey-Thompson also revealed that although the proposed legislation is “a big step forward,” the bill will still need to go through both chambers in order to be passed.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure that both chambers understand the power dynamic that exists in sport,” she said.

Child Abuse Organisations and Contact Details:

ChildLine – 0800 1111

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) – 0808 800 500

The Children’s Society – 020 7841 4400

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – 0808 801 0331