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UK Coaching Team
Self-care and development

Position of Trust: How it Affects Your Coaching

In this recording of a Time2Learn session, Jude Toasland from the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) explores the impact of the position of trust legislation and developments since it was implemented last year

This session will:

  • refresh your understanding of Position of Trust
  • update your knowledge following developments over the past year
  • explore what the Position of Trust looks like in practice.

What is a Position of Trust?

Someone in a position of trust is a person in a position of authority or responsibility over another person.

Position of Trust is a legal term that refers to certain roles and settings where an adult has regular and direct contact with children.

The law states (as of 28 June 2022) that those in a position of trust cannot legally have a sexual relationship with young people they look after, under 18 years old.

Who is in a Position of Trust?

Examples of positions of trust include but are not limited to:

  • teachers
  • care workers
  • youth justice workers
  • social workers
  • doctors.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, changes to the law made in 2022 extended the roles to include:

  • faith group leaders
  • sports coaches.

The following requirements need to be fulfilled to be classified as being in a Position of Trust:

‘Sport’ is defined as:

  1. any game in which physical skill is the predominant factor, and
  2. any form of physical recreation that is also engaged in for purposes of competition or display.

The adult must be involved in coaching, teaching, training, supervising, or instructing a young person.

There is a requirement that this activity is carried out on a regular basis.

The person must be aware that they carry out a certain activity on a regular basis in relation to the young person.

Position of Trust in practice

Consider what you might do in the following scenarios:

  • A fellow coach is in a relationship with one of the young people that they coach, aged 17.
  • You are contacted on social media by one of the young people you coach (aged 16) asking to join you for a drink.
  • At the leisure centre you provide training at, one of the young people (aged 19 years) has started teaching classes. They are going out with another member aged 17.
  • You’re delivering dance classes in a local community centre and really gel with one of the students, who is under 18. You would like to ask them out.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and are unsure about what you should do, contact your welfare officer or safeguarding lead for advice and guidance before you act to ensure that you protect yourself and the young people you coach, and maintain acceptable boundaries.

What should I do?

If you have a concern relating to a Position of Trust, remember:

It’s not up to you to decide whether or not an offence has taken place, but to report concerns appropriately.

If you suspect that an abuse of a position of trust has occurred, is occurring or may occur, you should:

  1. Immediately report it to your welfare officer or designated safeguarding officer in your own organisation, OR contact your Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
  2. Make a written record of your concerns and relevant details.
  3. If you are unable to contact the above people or if you think someone is at risk of immediate harm, you must report it to the police.

What is good practice?

Coaches and members of the wider coaching team involved in physical activity and sports organisations should be aware of and recognise the boundaries of what acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and situations involving those in a position of trust.

Remember, it’s essential to:

  • maintain a positive, healthy relationship with the young people under your authority
  • ensure that you read, understand, sign up to and comply with the code of conduct/behaviour your club, organisation or relevant sport’s governing body has produced for the role you hold
  • maintain a relationship with all participants that is appropriate to your role
  • do not seek to or engage in sexual activity or sexualised communication or image-sharing (including via social media) with participants under 18 years old.

Safeguarding & Protecting Children (Online Classroom)

Raise your awareness of the tell-tale signs of abuse


Safeguarding & Protecting Children (Workshop)

Interactive workshop to help coaches recognise poor practice and the red flags of abuse


UK Coaching Duty to Care Digital Badge

Earn our free nationally recognised Digital Badge by demonstrating your thorough knowledge of the six pillars of Duty to Care (Diversity; Inclusion; Mental Health and Well-being; Physical Well-being; Safeguarding; Safe to Practice)


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Related Resources

  • A Guide to Safe to Practice

  • A Guide to Safeguarding

  • Code of Practice for Sports Coaches


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UK Coaching Team