NEW figures have revealed that sex crimes by adults in positions of trust have risen across Hampshire.

Nearly 50 crimes have been committed across Hampshire since 2014 which involved a trusted adult targeting 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.

It is illegal for a person in a trusted position to engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18, and despite the government announcing plans to extend this law to include sports coaches, children’s welfare charity the NSPCC wants this law to include all adults working regularly with youngsters, not just those classed as in a ‘position of trust’.

According to the charity, the current loophole means adults with regular and intense contact with children in extra-curricular activities are able to groom them from a young age, and abuse the trust to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16.

Professions currently classed as being in a position of trust includes teachers, care staff and youth justice workers.

The government announced plans to extend sports coaches into the current law, but an NSPCC campaign, called #TrustToLead, is urging the law to include all adults.

There were 19 cases in Hampshire from July 2016 to June this year, compared to six cases leading to June 2014.

In the following year until 2015, there were 14 recorded cases and 7 between 2015 and 2016.

A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said on social media earlier this month: “I’m pleased to announce that I have secured ministerial agreement to change the law on positions of trust to include sports coaches.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It’s 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.”