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Child Abuse case in England highlights importance of using licensed coaches

Last week the angling world was shocked by the appalling news that an unlicensed angling coach had been convicted of committing 23 sex offences against 7 victims dating back to the 1990s.  In light of the incident the SFCA has echoed the Angling Trust’s call for all angling clubs and organisations working with young people and vulnerable adults to ensure that all their officers and coaches involved in running activities are properly licensed and in Scotland, Enhanced Disclosure checked through Disclosure Scotland.

The English coach in question, who was unlicensed and used his position as head of the junior section of a Leeds fishing club to get access to children and commit the offences, was last week jailed for 11 years.

As the Scottish Governing Body for coarse angling, the SFCA is committed to ensuring that all young anglers and vulnerable adults are able to participate in the sport of coarse angling in a safe and friendly environment. Working with Children1st, sportscotlalnd, and the other SGBs within ADBoS, the SFCA provides policies, guidance and a framework to encourage and support clubs, fisheries and other organisations to provide the same level of protection and assurance.

Working with the other two SGBs, SFSA and SANA, the SFCA has helped to develop and implement the Angling Development Board of Scotland (ADBoS) coach licensing scheme and is actively working to encourage all qualified angling coaches to become licensed.  In order to become licensed, coaches must hold an appropriate 1st4Sport UKCC coaching qualification, have undergone recognised and relevant Safeguarding and Protecting Children training, recognised First Aid Training, have been Enhanced Disclosure checked and be PVG Scheme registered and hold appropriate insurance.  Any concerns raised about a coach before and during their time as a licensed coach are investigated with the support of the aforementioned agencies and where appropriate the police and children’s services.

There are many, high quality, unlicensed coaches out there doing a fantastic job supporting clubs and organisations in getting children and/or vulnerable adults engaged in our great sport, but this case clearly highlights the need for better checks and controls.  If coaches are not licensed, their suitability to work in environments with young people and vulnerable adults cannot be assessed.  For this reason the SFCA urges all angling coaches to register for a Coach Licence and all clubs, schools and organisations using angling coaches to make it a requirement that the coaches they use hold a current ADBoS Coach Licence.  The licence has been designed to look like a photographic driving licence and holds details about the coach, their training and qualifications and expiry/review dates, as well as details of the types of angling and the level at which they are licenced to coach.  There is also a section for Game Angling Instructors.

Details of the ADBoS Coach licensing scheme can be found by clicking the following link.

Details of upcoming UKCC Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications can be obtained by contacting the SFCA coaching and Development Officer at

SFCA Chairman, Gus Brindle, said, “Any case of child sex abuse is abhorrent to normal decent people.  Our thoughts go out to the young people who were the victims of this terrible abuse over what appears to be a significant period of time, and of course their families.  While this type of incident is thankfully extremely rare in the sport of angling, it is a salient reminder to us all of the need for vigilance, and that we all have a role to play in ensuring that something like this doesn’t happen in Scotland.  I firmly believe that the best way to achieve this is for all organisations and clubs involved in angling to support the coach licence system.  Whilst like the Angling Trust we actively encourage friends and families to take youngsters fishing, the bar has to be set high for angling clubs and fisheries operating junior sections.  Before parents entrust their children to people they don’t know particularly well, they need to be confident that they will be coached by appropriately-trained people who have had their suitability to work with young people and vulnerable groups checked and verified by the authorities. With the National Progression Award qualifications going live on the National Curriculum, and the continuing success of the Club Angling Program with schools and clubs, we are seeing more children getting a chance to go fishing than ever before, and more looking to join clubs or use commercial fisheries.  This is of course fantastic news, but this incident has hardened my resolve to ensure that all angling coaches become licensed and to encourage fisheries, clubs and schools in particular, to insist on the use of licensed coaches.”

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