UK Athletics acknowledges there is “a lot more work to be done” regarding safeguarding after an independent review of its policies found a “lack of precision” in lines of responsibility.
The governing body has been tasked with “taking ownership of all cases”.
It has been told to deny a licence to anyone wanting to coach children or at-risk adults if they refuse to disclose a criminal records check certificate.
Welfare issues in UK sport are under scrutiny after gymnastics abuse claims.
A total of 29 recommendations were put forward by Christopher Quinlan QC, in order to create a a “modern, fit-for-purpose safeguarding regime” for UK Athletics (UKA), which received £26.9m for the Tokyo Olympics funding cycle.
UK Athletics (UKA) chief executive Joanna Coates said she “welcomes” the findings and has committed to implementing the recommendations with the home country federations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Coates took the role in February. In November, Zara Hyde Peters did not take up the position after allegations made about her husband came to light.
“While the report recognised the commitment of all organisations to creating a safe environment, ultimately the number of recommendations demonstrates that there is a lot more work to be done, it’s not enough to be ok or good – we need to strive to be excellent in this area to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people,” said Coates, who took over as chief executive of UKA in February.
Quinlan, who reviewed 17 safeguarding cases from the past 18 months, said: “Auditing those cases demonstrated the need for improvement in the process and the desirability of wider sanctioning powers.
“I was struck by the small number of cases overall and how few there were relating to unlicensed persons.
“A recurring theme during my consultations was a lack of precision in respect of the safeguarding lines of responsibility.”
The review’s main recommendations are:
- To produce “one single universally applicable safeguarding policy for athletics in the UK” and to give UKA operational responsibility for implementing it;
- To carry out criminal records checks (DBS) every three years for coaches, club welfare officers and other licensed individuals who work closely with children;
- To deny a licence to anyone who refuses to disclose a DBS certificate when asked;
- To make “face to face safeguarding training” every three years mandatory for anyone working directly with children or at-risk adults;
- To audit clubs to check “effective child and adult at risk safeguarding policies”.
A 12-month timeframe for implementing the recommendations has been put in place because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.