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Significant change in law relating to Position of Trust

Following many years of campaigning, the law surrounding positions of trust is to be changed to extend to those involved in coaching, teaching, training, supervising or instructing in sport.

As of 28 June 2022, it will be a criminal offence in England and Wales for those in a position of trust in sports organisations, such as coaches, to have a sexual relationship with participants under 18 years of age.

British Canoeing’s Position

British Canoeing’s Code of Conduct for the Coaching Workforce has for many years recognised the position of trust and power that the coaching workforce holds and has prohibited sexual relationships between a coach and paddler. Coaches must develop a relationship with their participants (and others) based on openness, honesty, mutual trust and respect. 

Specifically, the Code of Conduct states:

Do not engage in any form of sexually related contact or activity with any Paddler for whom you have responsibility. This extends to sexual innuendo, flirting or inappropriate gestures and terms.”

This applies to all those who help others achieve their goals through paddlesport.

So what’s new?

The change in law means that any sexual relationship between a coach and participant under 18 is a criminal offence, and therefore would not only be a breach of our Code of Conduct and subject to British Canoeing safeguarding and disciplinary procedures, but may also result in a criminal prosecution.

The law applies to any adult (over 18) involved in coaching, teaching, training, supervising or instructing in a sport.

As with any other safeguarding concern, everyone has a duty to report any concerns relating to this law in line with British Canoeing’s safeguarding policies.

I have more questions! 

The British Canoeing Safeguarding Team is working closely with the Child Protection in Sport Unit of the NSPCC and other sports and we will be providing more guidance to the paddlesport community as we receive more guidance from the Government.

In the meantime, we would urge all those involved in coaching, teaching, training, supervising or instructing to revisit the Code of Conduct and/or the free e-learning that supports this document.

If you have any questions about positions of trust in our Code of Conduct or the change in the law, please contact the British Canoeing Safeguarding team.