British Judo conducting investigation into coach arrests

14th April, 2021 3:12 pm

British Judo is investigating a number of cases in which coaches have been arrested for sexual offences, the BBC has learned.

The cases include one coach who was arrested for engaging in sexual communications with a child.

In a separate case, another was arrested for voyeurism at a place of work after placing a camera in female toilets.

Both incidents occurred in 2019.

In a statement, the governing body said it was unable to comment on active investigations.

But British Judo insisted “all allegations such as these are treated extremely seriously and are subject to a risk assessment process which will usually lead to a coach’s suspension from coaching pending police investigation and any prosecution”.

It is understood these cases are not part of a bullying investigation that was revealed by the BBC last month, and which is expected to be published imminently.

However, the review is looking into a physical incident that was reported to the police, also in 2019.

British Judo said that because it is part of the ongoing investigation, it is unable to comment further until the full findings of the investigation are published.

Safeguarding Review revealed

Meanwhile, the BBC has also obtained a copy of a 2019 independent safeguarding review of the sport.

In the report, which is heavily redacted, the review team states it is “concerned that current policies and procedures around safeguarding lack sufficient independence and transparency and that consequently the BJA [British Judo Association] are susceptible to challenge around their decision making and responses to safeguarding concerns”.

Carried out by LimeCulture, a national sexual violence and safeguarding organisation, it also notes that it was “unclear… whether personnel who make up the Area Boards have the requisite skills and knowledge to play and part in delivering safeguarding.

“Key informants told the review team that at area committee level, some members demonstrated an ‘old-fashioned attitude’ towards safeguarding, suggesting that they saw this as someone else’s role and did not recognise their responsibility in addressing safeguarding at their level.”

Elsewhere, the report states that “from the information provided to them, the review team found that, on the whole, decision making at NGB [national governing body] level appears to be based on sound safeguarding principles. However, the review team is of the view that there is often insufficient information recorded to explain why decisions have been made”.

The report reveals that there were 100 safeguarding cases reported to the British Judo Association in 2017, followed by 69 in 2018 and 54 in the first nine months of 2019.

However, according to the review, “key informants told the review team that in their view, given the number of clubs affiliated to the BJA (approximately 800), the number of cases seemed low and they were concerned the BJA does not have a true understanding of the extent of safeguarding concerns within its clubs”.

British Judo published the report’s recommendations at the time.

It told the BBC: “A number of areas were looked at within the report and British Judo is working closely with Sport England and the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) to implement the recommendations.

“The majority have already been introduced and others are in the process of being introduced.

“Safeguarding has been and remains a priority across our sport – there is always room for improvement, but we are working hard to ensure judo is a safe environment for young people and adults at risk alike.”

Last year, UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger pledged to “identify, confront and eradicate” bullying and abuse in the elite system.

In 2017, British Judo was awarded almost £5m in grassroots funding by Sport England for the 2017-2021 cycle. That followed an announcement by UK Sport in 2016 that the world-class performance programme would receive just under £10m for the Tokyo 2020 cycle.

UK Sport published a damning review of British Judo in 2016, after it was stripped of hosting the 2015 European Judo Championships in Glasgow following a dispute with the European Judo Union over a controversial sponsorship deal.

British athletes have won 18 Olympic medals since judo was added to the 1964 Games.

Source: British Judo conducting investigation into coach arrests – BBC Sport (ampproject.org)

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