A change in the law has been proposed to stop people in certain positions of trust being permitted to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.
Currently, teens who are above the age of consent but not yet adults are protected in law from being sexually abused by people in positions of trust over them, such as teachers, police officers and social workers.
But yesterday, former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill to include sports coaches in the list. She reminded the House of Commons that The Christian Institute had called for this even before the Sexual Offences Bill was debated in 2000.
Crouch said that she had spent many years coaching sport and recognised that the pathway to elite sports is “a vulnerable area”.
She argued that the Ministry of Justice should have acted immediately to close the loophole when numerous football coaches were accused of sexual abuse in 2016.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, she said: “When I was dealing with the issue as Sports Minister, it was claimed that if the legislation was extended to sports coaches, it would also need to be extended to music teachers, private tutors, faith and driving instructors.
“My response – as the daughter of a social worker who has spent her working life dealing with child sexual abuse – is, ‘Yes, it absolutely should be, and I fail to understand why it should not.'”
Coercion and abuse
Crouch continued: “Anyone in a position to influence the direction of another person’s journey through life, meaning that a power balance rests with them, should not be able to abuse that position by a sexual relationship.”
She told the House that “between 2014 and 2018 there were 653 cases in which adults who could be regarded as being in a position of trust had had a sexual relationship with a 16 or 17-year-old. Of the 495 cases in which the adult’s role was recorded, the majority were in sport and the data showed that such incidents had increased.”
She concluded that unless the loophole is closed, “coercive and abusive behaviour will continue, legally, and the lives of many more youngsters will be ruined”.
The move to bring forward a Bill was approved unanimously, and Crouch and others will now prepare a Bill.
However, Ten Minute Rule Bills rarely become law.