Legal loophole must close, says NSPCC boss after sex with teens in care figures revealed
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Police forces in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire cannot act on a total of 74 complaints made in the last four years about adults having sex with teenagers in their care because of a legal loophole, the NSPCC has found.
At present only people like teachers, care workers and youth justice workers are legally in ‘a position of trust’, meaning it is against the law for them to have sex with 16 or 17-year-olds that they supervise.
Positions like sports coaches and faith leaders aren’t covered by the law that does cover adults working in education, health, care and or youth justice.
Child protection charity the NSPCC is running a Close the Loophole campaign which is calling for these laws to be extended to all adults with responsibility for young people, to stop children being preyed upon as soon as they turn 16.
In the last four years police in England and Wales have recorded 1,025 crimes of abuse of position of trust of a sexual nature, 173 of those were in the East of England.
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There were 42 complaints in Cambridgeshire between 2014 and 2018, and there were 17 complaints in Hertfordshire and 15 in Bedfordshire in the same period.
And, according to council figures obtained by the NSPCC, a further 117 complaints were made in the East of England over the same period about adults who are not currently covered by the criminal law having sex with children in their care.
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In England and Wales 653 complaints were made to councils, and the true extent could be even higher because not all councils provided figures.
Councils recorded the adults’ jobs or volunteer roles in 495 cases. Of these 31 per cent of cases were about adults working in sports settings, 14 per cent related to adults in faith settings and 11 per cent related to youth work.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “It is absolutely outrageous that the law protects children in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch, or in a whole host of other activities.
“Government promised to extend these laws to sports coaches, but we’ve yet to see action and I fear they are backtracking.
“Any extension of the law must apply to all adults working with young people. To keep children safe this loophole must be closed – it is not enough to simply make the loophole smaller.”
To sign up as a campaigner for the NSPCC’s Close the Loophole campaign, go to nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/close-the-loophole.