Duty of Care in Sport – What it Means in Practice

Duty of Care in Sport

We often talk about duty of care in sport. But what does duty of care actually look like on the ground?

In 2017, the Government launched a new Duty of Care in Sport Review. It’s an independent report by Baroness Grey-Thompson. It explores the duty of care that sport has towards its participants.

Before we go any further, let’s briefly explain what we mean by “duty of care”.

What is Duty of Care in Sport?

When we talk about duty of care in sport, essentially we mean that safeguarding is a shared responsibility. You should not hesitate to step forward and speak up if you believe abuse is happening.

Everyone has the right to enjoy sports. So we should all be able to enjoy sports without having to deal with harm, abuse, or exploitation.

Duty of care means that everyone adheres to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could potentially harm others. You take responsibility for the physical and emotional safety of everyone in your care.

This applies to everyone involved in sport, from the coaches to the participants to the janitors. And the actual “duty of care” involves everything, from hiring practices, to personal conduct, to the process of raising concerns.

The Duty of Care in Sport Review

The 2017 Duty of Care in Sport review covers a number of areas. As well as safeguarding, it takes in education, equality, diversity, inclusion, and mental welfare.

Here are some of the report’s recommendations:

  • Sports organisations should find a standardised way to collect data about safeguarding issues.
  • All organisations should make their safeguarding policy clearly available on their website and in other materials.
  • Sports organisations should also clearly lay out the steps you must take to raise a concern or make a complaint.

You can read more about the Duty of Care in Sport review here.

What Does Duty of Care in Sport Mean in Practice?

Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation 2015 notes that organisations have a ‘duty of care’ which includes ‘safeguarding for children and people in a vulnerable situation’.

This means you need to be informed enough to properly identify concerns about adults at risk, and to properly act upon complaints. You also have a duty to respond proportionally to any instances of abuse or neglect.

If your organisation fails to do this, you’ll fail to meet your duty of care. Even worse, any adults at risk may be left disillusioned with sport and less likely to take part. Failing to meet your duty of care could also make adults at risk more vulnerable to harm.

Beyond the Playing Field

You also have a duty to respond if you feel that an adult is suffering or likely to suffer harm outside of the sport or physical activity.

The Care Act 2014 put the safeguarding of adults onto a statutory footing. The sport and physical activity sectors have regular contact with many people. So people involved in sports and activity have a crucial role in the support, identification and reporting of adults who may be at risk of harm.

Policies and Procedures

Your safeguarding policies and procedures have a dual role here. They safeguard people when they are participating in sports and activity. They also help you to respond to any abuse that may indicate that abuse is occurring outside of the sport setting.

A safeguarding adults policy and procedures document sets out the best practice framework for an organisation to respond to safeguarding concerns. It promotes the importance of safeguarding adults throughout the whole organisation.

Need a Hand Meeting Your Duty of Care?

If you’re involved in sport and activity, and you’re worried about meeting your duty of care for safeguarding adults at risk, we’re here to help.

You’ll find lots of resources on our website that’ll help you to make your sports or activity organisation safer and more accessible for everyone.

Safeguarding Training for Sports and Activity Clubs

We offer specialist safeguarding training courses for sports and activity organisations.

For more information, and to book, head here.