Doncaster review into sex abuse in sport ordered by child protection experts

Child protection experts have ordered a review examining whether Doncaster youngsters are safe from sex abuse in sport.
Child protection experts have ordered a review examining whether Doncaster youngsters are safe from sex abuse in sport.
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Child protection experts have ordered a review examining whether Doncaster youngsters are safe from sex abuse in sport.

The chairman of the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board, John Harris, told a meeting of Doncaster Council’s Overview and Scrutiny panel yesterday that a report into the procedures in place in the borough to prevent abuse in sports clubs is due to be submitted to the board in February.

Mr Harris and Doncaster Police Superintendent Neil Thomas confirmed that neither the safeguarding board or South Yorkshire Police have received any allegations of child sexual abuse in sport in the borough.

Mr Harris told the meeting that the review was being held to ensure that Doncaster sports’ clubs had received adequate training on awareness of child sexual exploitation, and that robust procedures were in place for abuse to be reported should any allegations be made.

He said: “The assurance review report is to ensure that those procedures are robust enough, and that clubs are aware of what to do next if allegations are made.

“This doesn’t just extend to football it extends to many different kinds of sports clubs.

“These allegations in football have only come to light in the last fortnight and we have acted as quickly as we can to order a review.

“While we haven’t received any allegations here, we can’t say for sure that it isn’t happening in Doncaster or across the UK.

“All we can do is make sure that our procedures are robust enough to make sure we can act quickly and properly if needed.”

The review comes after over 350 victims have made allegations of child sexual exploitation in football clubs across the UK since last month.

Many of the victims have come forward through a dedicated NSPCC hotline set up in the wake of allegations made by several former players including Paul Stewart, David White, Steve

Walters and Andy Woodward who waived their right to anonymity to go public about their abuse.

Former Sheffield United player, Andy Woodward was the first to break the silence on his abuse in an article in The Guardian on November 16.

The assurance review report was backed by councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny panel including Nick Allen and Mark Houlbrook, who said he believed the report was ‘important’.

He told the meeting: “We can’t know for sure whether it’s happening.

“It’s good that a report has been ordered in Doncaster but what are the FA doing to check with local authorities to see whether they have received any reports?

“And what they are pro-actively doing to support anyone who may have been abused?”

Mr Harris told the meeting that information gathered for the assurance review report would come from a number of different agencies.

- Call the NSPCC on 0800 023 2642 if you have experienced sexual abuse as a young footballer.

- The Samaritans are available to speak to on 116 123