Extension to Positions of Trust in England and Wales

Following the NSPCC’s ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign, an extension has now been added to the Positions of Trust legislation. The campaign sought to increase the Positions of Trust legislation to encompass both faith-based activities and sports sectors. This change to legislation has received royal assent and is now live in England and Wales. 

What does this mean?

The change to the Positions of Trust legislation means that Sections 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 now state that it is illegal for an adult (18+) in a position of trust to be involved in sexual activity with a person who is between the ages of 16 – 17 years old, regardless of if the relationship is consensual between the two parties.

A position of trust is defined as when a young person (<18) in an adult’s care has some dependency on them and there is an element of vulnerability involved, for example, where an adult is coaching, teaching, training, supervising or instructing in a sport to a 16 or 17-year-old on a regular basis. 

The exclusion of coaches from position of trust offences has become increasingly controversial, following numerous high-profile child sexual abuse cases in both sporting and religious settings. Concerns were raised both in Parliament and across wider society as the exclusion was seen to be a legal loophole, which allowed certain adults to have sexual activity with children and young people in their care. 

Next steps

The RYA recommends that RYA affiliates recognise this change in legislation in organisational safeguarding policies and related codes of conduct.

Download a copy of the RYA Positions of Trust Guidance document.

If any clubs, classes or centres have any concerns regarding inappropriate relationships, contact the RYA Safeguarding team: safeguarding@rya.org.uk. 

Note for Welfare Officers in Northern Ireland 

This change to legislation has almost passed the final stages in Northern Ireland and will be going live there soon. 

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