MPs call on Govt to close ‘abuse of trust’ loophole

A loophole that allows sports coaches and religious figures to have sexual relationships with children must be closed by the Government, MPs say.

The Christian Institute has been calling on the Government to make the change since 1999.

In 2017, the Government said it would change the law, but backtracked the following year.


Currently, the law protects children under 18 from abuse by those in a position of trust.

This is particularly important for 16 and 17-year-olds, who are over the legal age of consent.

However, while legislation protects them from being abused by adults in a position of authority such as teachers, social workers and police officers, it does not apply to sports coaches or church leaders.

In a new report released today, MPs call for a change to the Sexual Offences Act as well as publicity to highlight the move.


Sarah Champion MP leads the All Party Parliamentary Group that produced the report.

“Children attending youth groups at their church, participating in a gymnastics team or having driving lessons are vulnerable because the current law does not prevent the adults supervising them from engaging in sexual activity.”

She added: “It is not appropriate for an adult who has responsibility for supervising a child to engage in sexual activity with them and the law must be changed to recognise this.”


The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly welcomed the comments.

“We have been calling for this loophole to be closed for more than 20 years.

“It is high time the Government took this obvious step to help protect vulnerable teenagers from sexual exploitation.”