This is an important update to advise coaches of changes to the law which came into effect on Tuesday 28th June 2022. These changes have been brought in to support sports organisations and national governing bodies, like British Ice Skating, to make sport safer for children and will affect the position of coaches under criminal law.
What is changing?
Under criminal legislation, all coaches are now deemed to be in a “position associated with trust” as outlined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
What does this mean for Ice Skating coaches?
Prior to the law changes, sections 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offences Act the year 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 was intended to safeguard 16 and 17 year olds who are over the age of consent for sexual activity but are considered vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in situations where an adult is in a position of trust. It included people like doctors and teachers but did not include sports coaches.
The new section 22A of the Sexual Offences Act will extend the definition of “position of trust” to include any adult that regularly coaches, teaches, trains, supervises, or instructs a 16 or 17 yr old in sport.
How does that change things?
It brings any coach within the definition of position of trust and therefore subject to sanction under criminal law. In practice, it is already against our safeguarding policy and codes of practice for a person in a position of authority or influence to form an inappropriate relationship with a 16 or even 17 year old, and where such a relationship was identified this would have incurred the sanction.
Why has the law changed?
Adults who regularly coach, teach, train, supervise, or instruct a child/young person in a sport have a significant influence on the development of that young person. They also have a lot of impact, trust and responsibility within the roles they fulfil. These people can also be well-known, trusted, and respected in 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 young individual. This can lead to the grownup misusing their position associated with trust, leaving the younger person vulnerable to manipulation plus grooming.
What to do now?
Please share this information with your club committee, welfare officers, coaches and officials, together with any other club members.
We will also be providing updates and guidance on the legislation changes with regard to club officials and instructors on the upcoming club call and at the coaching convention.
For any queries about the legislation changes, or concerns about someone in a position of trust, please contact John Mills, Lead Safeguarding Officer at [email protected] org. uk