The LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said on the 25/1/19: “the LTA has now undertaken a root and branch review of its safeguarding” and “is committed to having the best safeguarding procedures possible at every level of the game.” Our review of the LTA safeguarding reveals dysfunctional safeguarding has been retained despite Mr Lloyd’s assertions.
Little reliance can be placed on the County Association Safeguarding Template policy. In England, Wales and Scotland there is still no statutory obligation to report either known or suspected abuse to the Local Authority (or the police in appropriate circumstances) for independent assessment. LTA policy provides no commitment even to consult with external agencies, such as the local Authority Designated Officer (“LADO”) for advice and/or guidance, when a safeguarding concern arises.
The LTA claims a child is a person under the age of 18 years. The proposed extension of the Position of Trust Law to sports coaches was put on hold by the Government many months ago. Here are the roles to which the law currently applies. Sports coaches are not included.
The LTA policy is a Potemkin village. Like all safeguarding policies, its foundation is ‘statutory guidance’ issued by the Department for Education to assist Regulated Activities, such the LTA, deliver law effectively. But there is no law to report known or suspected child abuse. As a result the term ‘statutory guidance’ is little more than an oxymoron. The reality is, the head of an LTA affiliated tennis club/centre who has statutory responsibility for safeguarding cannot be held to account by safeguarding legislation for failures to refer known or suspected child abuse to the statutory agencies. Furthermore, absence of legislation means staff who make a report in good faith, have no protection against legal action if the report they make is not validated in law.
The LTA is free to exceed the de minimis expectations of ‘statutory guidance’ to produce a safeguarding policy on which greater reliance can be placed. Unfortunately it has made no attempt to address the legislative vacuum in order to support staff and better protect young players in LTA care. What hope for culture change?