Sex crimes committed by adults in positions of trust have increased by more than 80 per cent in three years, shock figures have shown.
The national figures include ones for Derbyshire and Staffordshire where a total of 31 offences were recorded.
The number of offences committed nationally by professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers who targeted 16 and 17-year-olds in their care for sex, rose to 290 in the year up to June, 2017, which was up from 159 three years ago. While nearly 1,000 such crimes were recorded over the period all together.
Between July 2013 and June 2017, a total of 12 of these offences were recorded by Staffordshire Police and in the same period, 19 offences were recorded by Derbyshire Police.
Position of Trust laws do not currently apply to other adults working with young people, but the Government has now announced plans to extend legislation to cover sports coaches too.
The campaign by the children's charity the called #TrustToLead is however urging ministers to go even further and extend the law to cover all adults working regularly with children, including religious leaders, those working in the arts, outdoor pursuits and other activities.
The current loophole also means some adults with regular and intense contact with children in extra-curricular activities could be able to groom them from a younger age, and abuse that trusting relationship to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16.
This was what happened to Lee [not his real name] who was befriended by youth leader, Adam [also not his real name] at his church group when he was 15. Adam began texting Lee and asking to spend time together outside of the group.
Lee said: "Adam started by sitting closer to me on the sofa, trailing his finger on to mine. Things which I thought were weird but not big enough to react to."
Things escalated to kissing and sexual contact when Lee turned 16.
He added: "I was so confused but knew what he was doing was wrong. I wanted it to stop but part of me was afraid to speak out because I didn’t want to get him in trouble."
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "It is hard to believe that the law protects 16 and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.
"We know that some adult youth workers spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex.
"Extending position of trust laws to sports coaches is an important step in the right direction which will help protect more children from this kind of abuse. But to stop there would be a missed opportunity.
"Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them."
Position of trust:
It is an offence for someone over 18 in a defined position of trust to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care. But this definition is currently limited to certain regulated settings and positions including: education and care settings; clinics; hospitals; voluntary children’s homes; residential family centres; criminal justice settings.
Thus sexual activity between an adult youth leader and a 16 or 17-year-old child is not currently illegal in most contexts, because the roles such as sports coach or religious leader fall outside the legal definition of a "position of trust".
The Home Secretary has the power to make the proposed changes – so primary legislation isn’t needed.