Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson has backed calls to ban sports coaches from engaging in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.
It is illegal for adults in certain positions of trust, such as teachers, police officers and social workers, to have sexual contact with teenagers who are above the age of consent but are not yet adults. But the law does not apply to sports coaches – a gap The Christian Institute has called to be closed for 20 years.
Baroness Grey-Thompson says amending the Sexual Offences Act is “massively important” to “protect young athletes”.
The former Paralympian produced her Duty of Care in Sport report in 2017, recommending this change. The Government agreed to change the law, but said this was subject to a review, which is still ongoing.
Grey-Thompson said: “It’s been a source of frustration, the slow movement, and that’s maybe a lack of understanding of the specific case in sport where your route through is so limited.
“However, there will be a number of relationships which are groomed and encouraged and might start the day after the young athlete’s 16th birthday.
“To me there’s a huge sense of worry. We need the legislation to protect young athletes, to make sure that they are not mistreated during their time in sport.”
Ten Minute Rule Bill
Last month, former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch used a Ten Minute Rule Bill to call for the abuse of trust offence to be extended to sports coaches, having campaigned for a change in the law since 2017.
During the debate in the House of Commons, she said: “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.”