Swim England

A nation swimming

Preventing abuse in Positions of Trust 'Closing the Loophole' – A change in law

For many years, Swim England has been very explicit in banning sexual activity and relationships between a swimmer aged 16 or 17 years and their coach – because it is an abuse of the position of power by the coach.

Alongside this, the national governing body has continually supported the NSPCC campaign to change the law and treat sports coaches the same as teachers – with the aim of making such sexual activity illegal.

That campaign has been successful and Swim England is delighted the law has changed.

As of 28 June 2022, the law in England states that those in a position of trust in sports organisations, such as a coach, teacher, instructor etc, cannot legally have sexual activity with young people under 18 years old who are dependent on them.

Within the new policy, sport is defined as: a) any game in which physical skill is the predominant factor, and b) any form of physical recreation which is also engaged in for purposes of competition or display. It is not the case that both (a) and (b) must be met to meet the definition – either one is sufficient.

Regulated activity with children may be covered by this law, and although will be clarified in case law in future, cases emerging under the widest interpretation of this law will be referred to police by Swim England.

The NSPCC have issued a briefing sheet which can be found at thecpsu.org.uk under ‘Preventing abuse in positions of trust within sport’.

As parents, coaches, officials, and volunteers working with young people, we must all help to promote responsible activity within sport and prevent the manipulation and exploitation of young people. If you have any questions or have any concerns about potential abuses of Positions of Trust, please contact safeguarding@swimming.org.

Wavepower will be updated to reflect this law.