Sports England have recently commissioned a report into Swim England, who are the national governing body for swimming in England who teach children and adults to swim and compete in the sport. The report criticises Swim England’s safeguarding and complaints procedures, highlighting inadequate internal processes around reporting abuse and bullying within the organisation, and making recommendations for improvement.
Swim England have received multiple complaints over how their governing body have dealt with previous allegations of abuse and bullying.
Sports England commissioned an independent review following the complaints, and a report was released in March 2023 which examines how Swim England dealt with 3 different complaints of abuse.
The report particularly focuses on Swim England’s safeguarding culture and complaints processes.
The conclusions the report makes are quite critical, and state that the organisation has “a confusing and inconsistent approach to safeguarding” which creates unfairness and challenges around the decision-making process for investigations of child abuse in the sport. The report also concludes that there is an unclear complaints process for people who need to report concerns in Swim England, as well as complicated disciplinary processes for perpetrators of abuse.
The Recommendations made to Swim England
The report makes 9 urgent recommendations about actions that Swim England should take to resolve these issues, and help those who have experienced or witnessed abuse seek help through appropriate channels so incidents can be fully investigated. The recommendations include:
- A new reporting process which states clearly how to make complaints within the organisation;
- A new investigation process where evidence in prepared for a hearing involving a disciplinary panel, rather than decisions being made by a single person;
- Sufficient training for volunteers who have a responsibility for safeguarding;
- Removing the CEO/management from the prosecutorial decisions of the disciplinary/safeguarding teams;
- Complaints made against Swim England being resolved independently of Swim England.
We are pleased that Swim England have accepted these recommendations in full, and hope that they will now quickly implement improvements to their internal processes, so that future allegations of abuse are investigated properly.
How We Can Help if You’ve Experienced Abuse
We have years of experience helping people make claims for compensation after experiencing abuse, and we have found that many people gain a sense of closure from seeking legal action, feeling they are able to hold organisations accountable, and prevent this from happening to other children.
We would firstly urge you to report abuse to the police, and when you are ready to speak, our dedicated Abuse Law team are here to help you see if you can make a claim for compensation. No amount of money can reverse what has happened to you, but we are here to speak to you confidentially when you are ready, and we will talk you through your options.
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