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Urgent call for ombudsman to help community sports clubs safer! 

Community sports organisations have urged the government to introduce an independent ombudsman to help them improve safety, according to a report from the Sports Think Tank.

A survey by the group showed only five per cent of senior managers or board members in community sports settings have received training in duty of care, which covers issues ranging from first aid to child sexual exploitation, safeguarding and online safety.

The research is part of the sector's response to Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care in Sport report, published in April 2017, and calls for a task force to help deliver an industry standard, as well as set up a body for monitoring and independent scrutiny.

The latest findings show that less than 40 per cent of organisations have collected data in these areas, with 75 per cent saying they receive no financial support for training in duty of care.

Nearly all respondents called for an ‘ombudsman-type body’ to be set up to create key objectives and benchmarking.

"Duty of care is a complex area, however, it’s clear that sport needs agreed standards, accountability and support in place as soon as possible from the government,” said Andy Reed, Director of the Sports Think Tank and former Chair of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

"Our research recognised that self-regulation will not gain public support, rather the sector should be independently monitored by an ombudsman-style body”.

"We need to take action to keep sport safe and this has to be consistent.”

While in the past duty of care has focused on elite level sport, the new survey was sent to more than 100 organisations representing community sport, including county sport partnerships, national governing bodies, associations, federations and charitable trusts.

The findings were discussed at a roundtable with industry leaders, hosted at the House of Sport, in London.
The report also recommends that guidance is provided by bodies such as Sport Resolutions and that any sporting organisation in receipt of public funding has a trained guardian responsible for duty of care.