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09 Mar 2021 215

Positions of Trust statement

UK Coaching's statement on the positions of trust law change.

UK Coaching has the highest regard for the welfare of both participant and coach and considers this an absolute priority. Coaches have a responsibility to put the welfare of their participants first.

Through our partnership with the NSPCC and its Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), we promote and advocate for the highest standards of safeguarding.

We are pleased to hear the news that the Sexual Offences Act will be ‘extended to cover any adult who has regular and direct contact with children and is in a position of authority over them’, as reported by BBC Sport. This means sports coaches will now be covered by the Positions of Trust law.

We have been wholly supportive of the NSPCC’s Close the Loophole campaign, including meeting with the Ministry of Justice in 2018, and backed the law change recommendation in Tanni, Baroness Grey-Thompson’s review into the Duty of Care in Sport.

Inappropriate behaviour should not be tolerated and the need for coaches to understand and act on their responsibilities is vital to safeguarding all participants in sport and physical activity, as is the need to promote participation for fun and enjoyment.

The UK Coaching Code of Practice for Sports Coaches outlines what constitutes as good coaching practice. In the Code, under the principle of ‘Relationships’, it states that: ‘Coaches must develop a relationship with their participants (and others) based on openness, honesty, mutual trust and respect.' Part of a coach’s responsibility is not to engage in behaviour that constitutes any form of abuse, whether that is physical, sexual, neglect, emotional, bullying.

The vast majority of coaches provide great coaching and support to millions of people across the UK to strive for their own outcomes through sport and physical activity, whether that’s to meet friends, get fit, become more confident or to be the next world champion. Coaches who abide by our code, and the law, and keep themselves current through ongoing continued professional development, will create healthy, positive environments for participants to thrive in; developing skills and fitness and building lifelong connections to keeping active – whatever their performance level.

When grievances arise, however, it is vital that organisations have high quality governance and safeguarding policies in place and follow the very best practice in terms of ensuring all parties are aware of the processes. We still support Baroness Grey-Thompson’s call for a Sports Ombudsman, which will act as an independent watchdog to assess cases, ensure all sides are properly represented and determine outcomes through a robust and transparent process.

Our Purpose is to be here for the coach. To listen to the needs of coaches and provide them with the guidance, support, and inspiration they need to be the very best they can be. Through our UK Coaching Club, coaches can access a 24/7 counselling support helpline and a legal support service. We are working with specialist legal partners and others to support coaches to understand and conform to this new legislation.

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