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House of Commons Hansard
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Sexual Abuse in Sport
15 December 2016
Volume 618

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3. What steps her Department is taking to deal with historical allegations of child abuse in sport. [907914]

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The Government take these matters very seriously. Yesterday, I co-chaired a meeting with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of sports bodies, law enforcement and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to ensure that sports are able to deal effectively with allegations of non-recent abuse and have the most robust possible child protection processes in place today.

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The allegations that are under investigation, which involve more than 100 clubs, are truly shocking, but does the Secretary of State agree that the vast majority of coaches and volunteers in local sports clubs play a crucial role in our constituencies? Does she also agree that it is vital that we do not put off or discourage potential volunteers who would never dream of betraying the trust that was placed in them?

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I agree with my hon. Friend. We want to ensure that parents and young people have the confidence to participate in sport. We need to know what happened. We need to make sure that the victims come forward, that the police have time to carry out the investigations and that there is confidence in the system. The roundtable that I co-chaired yesterday was incredibly helpful in flushing out where we can do more, because we can always do more, and in giving reassurance that much is being done.

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11. I am sure that we are all appalled by the allegations of horrific abuse that have come out in recent weeks, which have besmirched the game that many of us love so much. We are aware of the helpline that is available so that people can phone up and relate what happened to them. Has the Secretary of State had conversations with the football authorities about what more can be done proactively to identify people who had contact with the abusers in the past and assist them in every way to make the difficult decision to come forward and relate what happened to them? [907925]

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I confirm that I have had exactly those conversations with the Football Association, the premier league, the English football league and the Professional Footballers Association to make sure that we are identifying people who may have been victims, but who have not yet had the confidence to come forward.

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Does the Secretary of State agree that there should be a mandatory requirement for the reporting of known or suspected abuse for everyone who works in regulated activities, including sport?

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My hon. Friend will know that the Department for Education and the Home Office have carried out a joint consultation on mandatory reporting. I understand that the responses are being considered at the moment and that a response will be forthcoming shortly.

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My contempt is reserved almost solely for the predators and abusers who carried out the crimes rather than the institutions, but the Secretary of State is right that there has to be a reflection on what went wrong and how we can maximise the robustness of safeguarding. Which individual sporting bodies has she met recently to have those discussions?

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I do not wish to detain the House with a long list, so perhaps it would be helpful if I wrote to the hon. Gentleman with the full list of the bodies that my hon. Friend the sports Minister and I have spoken to.

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Is it not remarkable that the people who are making statements went to football clubs among the 92 teams in the football leagues of Britain, whereas most people like me, working at the pit, were coached at the miners’ welfare, and nobody who helped at the 700 miners’ welfares all over Britain has been brought forward? The truth is that it is about the money as well. When the Government are digging into this, they should remember that there is a class argument about it. It is about people making money, and the Tories know a lot about that.

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I am sorry, but I do not think that trying to bring party politics into the matters is at all appropriate. Vulnerable young people have been abused by predatory individuals from all walks of life. Even suggesting that party politics is involved belittles the House.