Sex offences by adults in position of trust up 82%

Changes in the law needed to protect children

Sex offences committed by adults in positions of trust have increased by more than 80% since 2014.

The number of professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers sexually exploiting 16 and 17 year olds rose to 290 in the year up to June - up from 159 three years ago.

In total, nearly 1,000 crimes have been recorded since 2014.

Campaign to extend the law

The NSPCC’s #TrustToLead campaign is urging Government to extend position of trust law to cover all adults working regularly with children, including religious leaders, adults working in the arts, outdoor pursuits and other activities. 

Position of trust laws don’t currently apply to all adults working with young people, although the Government recently said it plans to extend the law to include sports coaches.

The current loophole means adults in regular and intense contact with children outside of school are able to groom them from a young age. These adults then abuse their position of trust to initiate sexual contact when the children turn 16. 

Signs of grooming

The signs of grooming aren't always obvious and groomers will often go to great lengths not to be identified.

If a child is being groomed they may:

  • be very secretive, including about what they are doing online
  • have older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • go to unusual places to meet friends
  • have new things such as clothes or mobile phones that they can't or won't explain
  • have access to drugs and alcohol.

In older children, signs of grooming can easily be mistaken for 'normal' teenage behaviour, but you may notice unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, or inappropriate sexual behaviour for their age.

Call the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors for help, advice and support.

Call us or email

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:

Peter Wanless NSPCC Chief Executive“It’s hard to believe that the law protects 16- and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.

We know that some adult youth workers spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex.

Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them."


  1. Since June 2014 there have been 922 recorded sexual offences for abuse of a position of trust:

      • 159 recorded offences in 2014
      • 234 recorded offences in 2015 
      • 239 recorded offences in 2016 
      • 290 recorded offences in 2017