British Judo made headlines recently as the BBC reported on the arrests of coaching staff for sexual offences and also disclosed details of an independent safeguarding review of the British Judo Association’s Safeguarding processes in 2019/2020.
It is reported that the arrests include a coach who was arrested for allegations of engaging in sexual communications with a child and a separate coach was arrested for allegations of voyeurism at a place of work after placing a camera in female toilets. Both incidents occurred in 2019.
British Judo has confirmed it is aware of two ongoing police investigations, however the cases referred to in the BBC article ‘do not relate to judo in any way’. It is stated that when the individuals were arrested, British Judo were informed that they had judo coaching licences. Their coaching licences were suspended accordingly, following a risk assessment. However, British Judo is unable to make any further comment due to the ongoing nature of the investigations.
The disclosed details of the independent safeguarding review noted concerns that:
- Current policies and procedures around safeguarding lack sufficient independence and transparency and that consequently the BJA [British Judo Association] are susceptible to challenge around their decision making and responses to safeguarding concerns
- It was ‘unclear… whether personnel who make up the Area Boards have the requisite skills and knowledge to play and part in delivering safeguarding
- Key informants told the review team that at area committee level, some members demonstrated an “old-fashioned attitude” towards safeguarding, suggesting that they saw this as someone else’s role and did not recognise their responsibility in addressing safeguarding at their level
- The number of reported safeguarding cases to the British Judo Association seemed low given the number of affiliated clubs. This raised the concern that the British Judo Association did not have a true understanding of the extent of safeguarding concerns within its clubs.
British Judo has published the report’s recommendations and states that it is working closely with Sport England and the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) to implement the recommendations.
Judo is the latest high-profile sport in the UK to face athlete welfare allegations. British Judo is also currently conducting a full independent investigation into bullying allegations, in accordance with internal procedures. The outcome of this investigation is awaited.