Westminster Media Forum

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Priorities for safeguarding in the UK sports sector

Morning, Monday, 22nd April 2024

This conference will examine priorities and next steps for safeguarding in UK sport.

With the sector, policymakers, and athletes increasing their focus on the welfare of those involved in sport across all levels, delegates will discuss next steps in the context of key recent developments, including options for regulatory frameworks going forward.

Discussion will draw on key issues raised and their wider implications across sport from the Whyte review on allegations of abuse in British Gymnastics; the Independent review of the Welsh Rugby Union following complaints from female players; and Holding up a mirror to cricket from the ICEC, looking into racial discrimination in cricket.

It also comes with the Government’s Get Active strategy, focusing on driving participation, tackling disparities, strengthening sport integrity in the UK, and making the sport sector more economically and environmentally sustainable.

The conference is bringing together key stakeholders with policymakers to assess priorities for policy, regulation and implementation of strengthened measures for sports safety and welfare, both nationally and locally across levels in key disciplines and settings.

Delegates will examine implications of new safeguarding measures and their role in meeting the Government’s policy agenda of reducing inequalities, increasing participation and diversity across sports, and achieving long-term change.

Areas for discussion include best practice, training and funding, including priorities for the Sport Welfare Officer Network, and the handling of dispute resolution in sport following the call for evidence.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: Simon Mason, Head of Sport Strategy, DCMS; Geraldine Costello, Director of Welfare and Safe Sport, British Gymnastics; Anne Tiivas, Chair, Safe Sport International; Sam Peters, Journalist and Media Campaigner, Concussed Media; and Dr Emma Kavanagh, Associate Professor in Sport Psychology and Safe Sport, Bournemouth University.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • policy: assessing proposals outlined in Get Active - whether recommendations go far enough - what is needed from policy and stakeholders if targets are to be achieved
  • prioritising safeguarding: incorporating into future development of sports policy - harmonisation of policies across the sector - assessing proposals for an overarching independent regulator
  • addressing concerns: options for strategy and regulation following recommendations from key recent reviews - prioritising athlete safety, including from discrimination 
  • training: investment and frameworks needed for coaches, sports bodies and facilities including updates and reskilling - evaluating athlete and team needs at all levels
  • coordination: next steps for joint-working - responsibilities of key stakeholders - strategies and implementation of a more harmonised approach to welfare and safety
  • access and inclusion: assessing steps to reduce gender, race and disability disparity in sport participation
  • resources: priorities for investment - measures to improve working conditions, facilities and sustainability - providing continuity of funding for training and safeguarding opportunities

Keynote Speakers

Sam Peters

Journalist and Media Campaigner, Concussed Media

Dr Emma Kavanagh

Associate Professor in Sport Psychology and Safe Sport, Bournemouth University

Keynote Speakers

Simon Mason

Head of Sport Strategy, DCMS

Geraldine Costello

Director of Welfare and Safe Sport, British Gymnastics

Anne Tiivas

Chair, Safe Sport International

Sam Peters

Journalist and Media Campaigner, Concussed Media

Dr Emma Kavanagh

Associate Professor in Sport Psychology and Safe Sport, Bournemouth University


John Downes

Head of Youth and Sport and Designated Safeguarding Lead, StreetGames

Jill Thorburn

Director, Mind Of My Own

Dr Niall Elliott

Head of Sports Medicine, Scottish Institute of Sport; and Chief Medical Officer, British Olympic Association

Professor Bill Ribbans

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Professor of Sport Medicine, Progressive Rugby

Adam Murphy

National Awards Manager, SportsAid

Richard Bush

Partner, Bird and Bird