It has been announced that child abuse laws in England and Wales are to be expanded under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bills. This new legislation means that sports coaches who engage in sexual relationships with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care will now be breaking the law.
It was already illegal for people in what are considered ‘positions of trust’ – such as teachers, doctors and social workers – to engage in sexual activity with anybody in their care who is under the age of 18. However, sports coaches and faith leaders had been exempt, despite working closely with young people. The campaign to close this legal loophole, spearheaded by the NSPCC, has long been supported by British Equestrian and its member bodies.
“We believe that everyone who takes part in equestrian sport should be able to do so safely and without concern,” commented British Equestrian CEO, Iain Graham. “We strongly support this change in legislation and see it as a positive step forward in safeguarding our young riders, allowing them to safely enjoy the sport they love.”
James Hick, CEO of The British Horse Society, said, “Participation runs through all of our charitable objectives and we want everyone to be able to have an opportunity to take up horse riding, whatever their age or aspirations. This new legislation is key to allowing young people and parents to know that they are in a safe and secure environment. We hope this change encourages more young people to consider horse riding.”