Safeguarding project launched after Durham cricket coach jailed for sexual abuse

29th March, 2022 9:44 am

Parents, carers and sports workers in the North East are being urged to speak up if they are concerned about possible abuse or exploitation at a local club after a scout for Durham County Cricket Club was jailed for a series of sex offences against boys.

The Say Something if You See Something campaign, run by national charity NWG Network, is encouraging people to speak up with any concerns they may have about anyone working with children and young people in sports clubs or leisure centres.

The campaign, which was launched last week, aims to get parents, communities, and clubs themselves to talk more openly about safeguarding.

Sexual abuse in sport has hit headlines locally in the case of Michael Strange, a former cricket coach and scout for Durham County Cricket Club, who was jailed for four and a half years for a series of sexual offences against a boy.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Strange, then 60, of Upton Street, Bensham, Gateshead, abused the boy over a three-year-period.

NWG’s campaign is aimed at targeting not only sexual abuse but also the potential exploitation of children and young people by criminal gangs.

Kevin Murphy, NWG Network’s Safeguarding in Sport lead, said: “Abuse and exploitation are areas that people can often feel uncomfortable talking about and they may find it difficult to raise minor concerns for fear of being viewed as a troublemaker or falsely accusing somebody.

“But what this campaign is all about is ensuring those low-level concerns are aired before problems escalate. A quiet word with those in charge at the club now could stop a potential abuser in their tracks. Or, if you feel you can’t approach the club, call police on 101 to report non-urgent concerns.

“Many children do not recognise that what’s happening to them is abuse or, if they do, they are too terrified to say anything due to the power of their abuser, so the onus really is on all of us to look out for them, do our bit and report absolutely anything that causes alarm bells to ring.”

NWG Network has been working closely with the South Tyneside Safeguarding Children and Adults Partnership for many months – a multi-agency partnership which works together to protect children and adults at risk of harm or abuse.

Leah Collinson, Safeguarding Development Officer for the Partnership, said: “The Say Something if you See Something campaign is so important to remind everyone – whether you’re a young person, a parent or carer, a leisure centre worker, a sports coach, or simply a member of the wider community – that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and to speak up if you think something’s not right.

“Durham Football Association is a fantastic example of an organisation that has embedded the best safeguarding practices into grassroots football, but there’s always more that needs to be done across all sports and clubs, and our Safe to Play campaign will continue throughout 2022 to help parents, carers and coaches ask the right questions before allowing children to take part in sports clubs or activities.”

Sports clubs and leisure centres around the UK have been known to be used by those attempting to groom young people into illegal activity like drug trafficking.

Source: Northern Echo

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