A CHARITY is campaigning for a legal loophole which means sports coaches and faith leaders cannot be investigated for having sex with teenagers in their care.

The NSPCC is calling for the law covering people in a position of trust being banned from having sex with 16 and 17-year olds be extended.

At the moment it only covers people like teachers, care workers and youth justice workers but not all other positions.

In the last four years, Essex Police has recorded 21 crimes categorised as abuse of position of trust of a sexual nature.

But the NSPCC believe there may have been 117 other instances in the East of England over the same time period which police have no power to investigate.

In November last year, former sports minister Tracey Crouch announced that the then Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Ministry of Justice had agreed position of trust laws would be extended to sports coaches.

But no action has been taken, and the Ministry of Justice has since written to the NSPCC giving the impression that the Government believes laws on the age of consent and on non-consensual sexual activity provide adequate protection for 16 and 17 year olds who are preyed upon by adults who supervise them.

The NSPCC has launched a campaign called Close the Loophole and chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It is absolutely outrageous that the law protects children in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch, or in a whole host of other activities.

“Government promised to extend these laws to sports coaches, but we’ve yet to see action and I fear they are backtracking.

“Any extension of the law must apply to all adults working with young people. To keep children safe this loophole must be closed – it is not enough to simply make the loophole smaller.”