The number of sex crimes committed by adults in positions of trust has increased by more than 80 per cent over the last year, new figures have shown.
Offences involving professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers targeting 16 and 17-year-olds in their care for sex rose to 290 in the year to June, up from 159 three years ago. Nearly 1,000 crimes were recorded over the period, figures from the Home Office and released by the NSPCC show.
Between July 2013 and June 2017, a total of 19 of these offences were recorded by Derbyshire police. Ten of these offences were recorded in the county between January and June this year.
Position of Trust laws don’t currently apply to other adults working with young people, but the government this month announced it plans to extend legislation to cover sports coaches.
The NSPCC’s #TrustToLead campaign is urging government to go further and extend the law to cover all adults working regularly with children, including religious leaders, adults working in the arts, outdoor pursuits and other activities.
The current loophole means adults with regular and intense contact with children in extra-curricular activities are able to groom them from a young age, and abuse that trusting relationship to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16, the charity says.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It’s hard to believe that the law protects 16- and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.
“We know that some adult youth workers spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex.
“Extending Position of Trust laws to sports coaches is an important step in the right direction which will help protect more children from this kind of abuse. But to stop there would be a missed opportunity. Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them.”