The Ministry of Justice has announced the Positions of Trust law, which currently applies to roles like teachers and social workers, has been extended to cover 'any adult who has regular and direct contact with children and is in a position of authority over them’. 

The Close the Loophole campaign, run by the NSPCC and backed by many sports organisations, has resulted in the Ministry of Justice extending the law to see sports coaches and faith leaders included in this definition.

This extends the legal protection for 16 and 17 year olds to prevent them being targeted by adults who hold a position of power and influence over them. Although young people aged 16 and 17 have reached the age of consent for sexual activity according to UK law, they could be vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in certain situations. 

In 2017 the NSPCC began a campaigning to extend the law after the football abuse scandal in 2016 highlighted how adults utilised their positions of authority in sports settings to abuse children.

Michelle North, head of CPSU, said:

"I want to say a big thank you to all the sports organisations who have been alongside us throughout this campaign. Your support and sharing your case data really helped push the campaign forward. This really is a win for the whole sports community. It has been hailed as a ‘landmark step’ for the protection of young people."

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:

"We are delighted that after relentless campaigning, the Government has finally listened to our calls and agreed to close this legal loophole. This landmark step sends a clear message that 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. Thank you to everyone who stood up for children and threw their weight behind our campaign. With children set to return to activities in spring and summer, we will be looking at the details behind this announcement very closely."

Follow the NSPCC for updates on Preventing abuse in positions of trust in sport and activity

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