Criminal record checks as a tool to prevent child abuse in sport

Authored by: Melanie Lang , Maria Papaefstathiou

Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367193256
eBook ISBN: 9780429201745
Adobe ISBN:


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Checking the criminal history of those who work with children and young people has become a key mechanism by which sports and other organisations globally attempt to protect children. The main purpose of such checks is to prevent known (and, in some cases, suspected) offenders from gaining access to vulnerable groups. They check an individual’s name against police criminal records and, sometimes, against databases of individuals convicted of certain (usually sexual) crimes. Combined with regulations that prohibit individuals convicted of certain offences from occupying certain roles, criminal record checks are a useful part of sports’ approach to protecting children from abuse, especially from sexual abuse. However, there are significant weaknesses in the criminal record checking system. This chapter discusses the strengths and limitations of criminal record checks and, through a case study of how they operate in one European country – Cyprus – argues that criminal record checking must form one part of a comprehensive, evidence-based, independent strategy that seeks to transform sports culture and practice.

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