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Ex-Sports minister criticises sports coach sex law delay

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An ex-sports minister has described a proposed law still under review to make it illegal for sports coaches to have sexual relations with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care, as “a no brainer.”

Tracey Crouch was the minister who first announced the law change in 2017, but it has since stalled and is yet to be introduced by the Ministry of Justice.

The Conservative MP - who resigned as sports minister in November 2018 -  criticised the government for failing to protect "vulnerable people".

She added that if the law was not brought in soon she would look to change the legislation herself, perhaps through a backbench private members' bill.

Currently, the age of consent in the UK is 16, although that is extended to 18 if a person holds a position of trust.

The law covers teachers, hospital workers and carers, but not sports coaches.

Speaking to the BBC she described the law as a "no-brainer".

"It is about protecting vulnerable people from an abuse of power.

"Frustratingly it seems to have got bogged down in bureaucracy at the Ministry of Justice, the department that owns the legislation."

According to the Offside Trust, a body set up by survivors after revelations of child sexual abuse in football, at least 80 sports coaches have been convicted of sexual abuse of children in the space of two years.

It said almost half of the cases involved crimes that have been committed since 2006.

The chief executive of the children's charity NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said it was "absolutely outrageous" the law had not yet been introduced.

"Government promised to extend these laws to sports coaches, but we've yet to see action and I fear they are backtracking," he added.

In a statement the Ministry of Justice said: "We remain absolutely committed to protecting children and young people from the horrors of sexual abuse.

"Offenders already face tough punishments and we continue to keep the law under review."

Image rights - Pexels - https://www.pexels.com/photo/astro-turf-cones-field-football-1084467/



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