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NSPCC chief lifts the lid on safeguarding challenges in sport

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National governing bodies and other sports organisations have work to do to improve their safeguarding capabilities, according to the chief executive of the NSPCC.

Talking at the Sport Recreation Alliance’s Sport Summit 2017, Peter Wanless explained that while the majority of the 200 sports bodies assessed by the organisation’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) met the “highest level of standards” for safeguarding, there were “gaps”.

Young elite athletes were at the “highest risk of abuse”, said Wanless, who added that no UK Sport funded national governing bodies had achieved the CPSU’s “advanced level” of safeguarding and demonstrated “various levels of achievement”.

Worryingly, CPSU research revealed that 100-plus sports bodies not funded by UK Sport or the sports councils have limited safeguarding requirements imposed in them, and have no equivalent to the CPSU - which was set up in association with UK Sport and Sport England – to monitor them.

Wanless added that when Sport England gave the CPSU funding to launch a pilot with six of those bodies they were “extremely hard to engage with, required high degrees of support and were vulnerable to safeguarding being deprioritised”.

The physical and emotional safeguarding of children and adults in sport was a key pillar of the Duty of Care report published by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson last month. Anne Tiivas, who heads up the CPSU, was part of the advisory board to the report.

Recommendations in the report relating to the CPSU’s work include extending the definitions of ‘position of trust’ to sports coaches so that stringent checks are made before they are allowed to supervise the care of children.

Wanless said he hoped the work done by the previous government recognising these issues would continue immediately following the General Election in June, regardless of which party is in power.

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National governing bodies and other sports organisations have work to do to improve their safeguarding capabilities, according to the chief executive of the NSPCC.
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