It is now illegal in England and Wales for sports coaches and religious leaders to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17 year olds in their care.

A section of the Policing, Crime, Punishment and Courts Act 2022 clarifies who can be considered to be in a position of trust over a young person who is over the age of consent but is not legally an adult .

Only teachers, police and social workers were included in the Sexual Offenses Act 2003. Three years earlier, the Christian Institute warned that this was too narrow and would allow people in other positions of authority to abuse teenagers in their care.


The government said it has taken a targeted approach, so the offense only applies to those who assume a position of authority over a 16 or 17-year-old “on a regular basis”.

The Act includes provisions to expand the definitions of what constitutes a position of trust at a later date.

The Institute began campaigning for a comprehensive breach of trust offense in 2000 after undertaking a detailed analysis of the systemic abuse uncovered by the Waterhouse Inquiry into children’s homes in North Wales.

“Since a long time”

Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly said the law change was “long overdue”.

“We’ve been saying for over 20 years that the breach of trust offense was far too narrow. It was obvious that leaving sports coaches, religious leaders and others out of the reach of the law would put vulnerable young people at risk.

“We are delighted that action has finally been taken. This is an extremely important step in protecting young people from exploitation”.

Also see:

Sajid Javid calls for changes to breach of trust law

Paralympic legend supports changing breach of trust law

Ex-sports minister aims to close breach of trust loophole


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