A culture of safeguarding in sport and physical activity is something we all need to work towards. The emergence last week of allegations of historic abuse in football reinforces the need for us all, whether parents, players, coaches, other paid staff or volunteers, to be able to recognise signs of abuse and importantly raise concerns with the appropriate people. In doing this we recognise that everyone has to have the confidence that these concerns will be handled appropriately.
We are part of the Sport Safeguarding Partnership which is driven by the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) based at children’s charity NSPCC. The CPSU is a partnership between NSPCC, Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Wales. In Scotland there is a similar partnership between Children 1st and sport Scotland. The Unit works with UK Sport Councils, National Governing Bodies (NGBs), County Sports Partnerships and others to help them minimise the risk of child abuse during sporting activities.
In addition to working with the CPSU, we also supported the establishment of the Safeguarding Adults in Sport, which is a project funded by Sport England to help NGBs, regional partnerships and sports clubs to develop best practice in safeguarding adults at risk. The work is led by the Anne Craft Trust and we have a position on the steering group.
We believe another key role for the Alliance around safeguarding is ensuring it is high on the policy and political agenda. Therefore, we supported our members, Safeguarding Adults in Sport and the CPSU in calling for safeguarding to be a crucial strand of Baroness Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care Review and included in the UK Code for Sports Governance. We were pleased to see the latter when it was published on 31 October and look forward to the publication of Baroness Grey-Thompson’s review recommendations in due course.
Organisations working with children and adults at risk need to ensure that the correct policies are in place and adhered to. But it’s bigger than this. We also need to create a culture where everyone understands signs of abuse and anyone who has concerns about a child or adult at risk has the confidence to raise them with the right people.
Our members can access support and advice via the CPSU website which included contacts details for further support in each of the nations.
The NSPCC recently set up a free football hotline for sexual abuse victims with support of the FA – 0800 023 2642.
But please remember, if you think a child is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999 or the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 straight away.
If you are contacted by the media and would like some support from us on how to handle it, please email our press team.
We have also been liaising with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on this issue. Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, wrote to the funded NGBs earlier this week encouraging them to review their own policies and procedures. Although every organisation will need to consider this within their own context, other organisations may find it helpful to consider the same questions which are provided below.
In the letter the Minister asked national governing bodies to look into three things, as below.
· Whether there are any historic allegations of abuse that would merit investigation or re investigation
· Whether you have in place processes for managing allegations of historic sexual abuse in your sport
· Whether your current processes for safeguarding children and young people are as robust as possible
'I am sure you share my view that the sport sector needs to do everything it can to ensure that if proven allegations are found there is justice for the survivors of past abuse, and that sport today is as safe as it possibly can be.' Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage.