‘More can and must be done’: working group to tackle poor conduct in British racing

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  • A working group made up of key stakeholders in British racing will develop an “action plan” to tackle conduct and promote “positive behaviour change” in the industry.

    The announcement comes a week after jockey Robbie Dunne was given an 18-month ban, with three months suspended, after he was found in breach of all four counts of conduct prejudicial to horseracing as the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) ruled he had bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

    The group, chaired by the BHA, will include representatives from the National Trainers Federation, Professional Jockeys Association, National Association of Racing Staff, Racehorse Owners Association, Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, and Racecourse Association – “and/or – crucially – the people that they represent”.

    “As part of this commitment, initial discussions around which commenced earlier this year, the signatories have agreed to take part in a working party which will report into the industry people board and have the objectives of promoting the positive elements of conduct within the industry, educating our people, deterring poor behaviours and any form of discrimination while empowering our people to call out conduct which falls short of our joint expectations,” read a joint statement.

    A spokesman for the group said British racing is a diverse industry where individuals of varying identities and from a wide range of backgrounds work and compete side by side.

    “It is a sport characterised by the shared values of camaraderie and conscientiousness which come hand in hand with working in an elite sport and the risks associated with working alongside our equine athletes,” he said.

    “It is essential horseracing remains a progressive, modern industry when it comes to the conduct of our people. We must prioritise the wellbeing and development of our workforce, stand against discrimination of any kind in British racing, and invest in making racing a safe, fulfilling place to work.”

    The spokesman said “great progress” had already been made in the industry in improving standards around training, education, employment practices, wellbeing, safeguarding, and career development, but more can be done. with the “entire sport involved in making racing “a better place to work”.

    “However, there is always more that can and must be done. We must encourage a culture of openness and seek to support anyone who faces problems or has found themselves in difficulty. We must promote a culture of respect in how those involved in racing interact with one another and promote more diversity and inclusion at all levels of the industry,” he said.

    “The signatories to this statement, therefore, publicly commit to further improve standards, education and training around industry conduct, through the formation of a dedicated cross-industry working party.”

    The working party will “as a priority” develop an action plan, which will be underpinned by research into the most effective examples of positive behaviour change from other industries. The formation of the group and action plan are “an important part” of a previously announced project to introduce a new industry code of conduct and underpinning regulations, which will be introduced in spring 2022. The code has been developed alongside all the working group members, who are also signatories of British racing’s diversity and inclusion industry commitment.

    “The working party will have among its objectives ensuring that the new code of conduct is properly communicated, explained and understood and that it achieves its objectives of raising standards of behaviour and conduct within the sport,” said the spokesman.

    “The working party will also assist in the introduction of the sport’s new safeguarding policy and regulations, which are also close to being finalised.”

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