In new legislation planned for England and Wales, sports coaches and religious leaders who have sex with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care will be breaking the law.

We previously highlighted in our blog that sports coaches and religious leaders were not subject to legal sanctions akin to other professionals in a position of trust.

While the age of consent in England and Wales is 16, it is illegal for those in some professions – such as teachers, social workers and doctors – to have a sexual relationship with 16 or 17-year-olds in their care.

By closing the legal loophole, sexual relationships between people in a position of trust and those they supervise will become illegal.

The government’s pledge follows prolonged calls from sports and children’s rights campaigners amid concerns predators in such roles could exploit the influence they have on young people, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.

Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “We are delighted that after relentless campaigning, the government has finally listened to our calls and agreed to close this legal loophole.

“This landmark step sends a clear message that children and young people can return to the extracurricular activities they love without being at risk of grooming by the very adults they should look to for support and guidance.”

In 2020, a BBC Sport’s Freedom of Information request, highlighted that there were 164 cases of sport coaches engaging in sexual activities with 16 and 17-year-old in their care since 2016.

The “Position of trust” law is one of a raft of measures proposed by the government in its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is due to be introduced to parliament today (Tuesday 9 March) as part of efforts to overhaul the justice system.

Victims of sporting coach abuse may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) award and/or may be able to present a claim directly against the sporting institution itself. Here at Farleys we are able to assist with both and we have previously represented numerous victims of sporting abuse claims, both of which can run alongside each other.

You can read more about CICA claims or read recent case studies on our website.

If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse at the hands of a sporting coach or employee then we are here to help. Our dedicated team support victims throughout the process, treating every case with the sensitivity, confidentiality and integrity it deserves. Call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.