Potential widening of legislation relating to ‘Positions of Trust’ in faith settings

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Safeguarding in Faith Settings is an informal, cross-party interest group of MPs and Peers which exists to help other MPs from all parties to become better informed on the issue of safeguarding in faith settings. It has launched an inquiry and has issued a call for evidence to be provided by 20 September relating to whether there should be a change in legislation relating to ‘Positions of Trust’ within faith settings.

What is a ‘Position of Trust’?

It is a legal term that refers to certain roles and settings where an adult has regular and direct contact with children. Examples of positions of trust include teachers, care workers, social workers, police officers, doctors, foster carers and youth justice staff.

The current status of a ‘Position of Trust’

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 it is illegal for professionals in specified groups which include a ‘Position of Trust’ to be involved in sexual activity with a 16 or 17 year old under their supervision.  However, there are many roles which are not legally defined as being ‘Positions of Trust’ such as faith group leaders, swimming coaches and sports coaches. This means it is not currently illegal for people in these roles to have a sexual relationship with a 16 or 17 year old in their care.

Evidence to be submitted

The inquiry is calling for evidence in order to assess the need for a change in current legislation. Evidence submitted needs to address one or more of the following:

  • The need for a change in legislation underpinned by specific knowledge, research and/or case examples from:
    • work within a faith or religious community; or
    • from working alongside faith or religious communities (statutory or voluntary sector organisations and others); or
    • from those working in other sectors (outside faith) where transferable learning might benefit the findings of the inquiry.
  • Evidence to support no change to the existing legislation around Positions of Trust.

Written submissions are to be submitted by 20 September 2019 and a limited number of those submitting written evidence will be invited to attend an open session of the group to give oral evidence in support on 22 October 2019.

Catherine Davey, Associate, BLM

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