We don’t normally comment on current events in roller derby on this blog. However, the current shocking events in the UK Roller Derby community have been spreading rapidly, and we felt it would be useful to have an objective location collating the information available. In the past 24 hours, there has been a lot of discussion and horrified reaction, and many responses from across the community; we would not want these to be missed.
The UK roller derby community has been shocked this week by revelations that a female NSO appeared in court to answer sexual offence charges.
Laura Nixon-Corfield (known within the community as Sara Tonin) was sentenced after admitting to having and distributing images of child sexual abuse. Over 800 images were cited in the court report, with children picture aged between 1 and 12 years. She received a two year suspended jail sentence, and a 10 year registration on the Sex Offenders register.
The details are reported in the press here: (warning, descriptions of images and messages sent relating to the images have been included in reports):
Nixon-Corfield had NSO’d and THNSO’d a number of events, working with leagues in both the UK and global community, including the 2017 MRDA Championships in Wales, and National and International tournaments in the current year.
Leagues and organisations Nixon-Corfield has been affiliated with in the past published statements that detailed lifetime bans from leagues and events. Their statements unanimously stated that they were unaware that she was going through any legal proceedings, and did not know that she faced sexual offence charges relating to children.
In a post on Rainy City Roller Derby’s Facebook page, league president Evan Lawrence said: “The Board of RCRD wants to reassure the derby community and the public that we treat the safety of our members and fans incredibly seriously and on discovering this information we have taken immediate action.
“They have been immediately removed and banned from the league, permanently banned from our venue, and any events at which Rainy City is participating.
“We have notified WFTDA, UKRDA, JRDA and British Champs and we are working with them to make sure that we are able to provide a safe space for everyone within the community.
“We are providing counselling for all our members and will also be consulting with local expert organisations for further advice on how to support the league and the derby community.”
Manchester Roller Derby made their own post, explaining that while Nixon-Corfield had previously been a member, they had left the league some time ago, although she had still NSO’d at some of their events, as a local official.
The statement, in part, reads: “Manchester Roller Derby condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms. The safety of our members, their families, the wider derby community and anyone else who may be in attendance at our events is of the upmost importance to us and a priority for the league.
“We find it deeply regrettable that they continued to participate at our events despite having reported themselves to the authorities and despite consciously attending events where junior skaters were present.”
It continues: “In light of the above, and as a safeguarding measure, Manchester Roller Derby have issued a permanent lifetime ban to prevent Laura Nixon-Corfield from attending any Manchester Roller Derby related activities or events.”
And the UKRDA has issued a lifetime ban from any events organised by a UKRDA member league, including British Championships. They also join the long list of entities which have contacted the WFTDA, MRDA and JRDA on this matter.
British Championships also issued their own statement, confirming that Nixon-Corfield had been banned permanently “from participation in all WFTDA, MRDA, UKRDA, JRDA, and British Championships events and groups effective immediately.” and affirming that “We are unified in our condemnation of these disgusting and harmful criminal act”.
Nottingham Roller Derby confirmed that they have no ongoing relationship with her.
There is currently an ongoing process in several organisations concerning improvements in safeguarding and vetting procedures to limit the possibility of this occurring again, and to help protect children in future.
Update: the MRDA has also issued a statement, revoking Nixon-Corfield’s registration, and banning her worldwide from their events. All MRDA leagues have been informed of this decision.
Update (2): the WFTDA has now also made a short statement, also confirming a WFTDA-wide ban, and affirming support for, and solidarity with, their member league Rainy City.
Here are the numbers of some organisations who can help if you, or someone you know, has been affected by this incident:
Samaritans: 116 123 or 0845 790 9090
Counselling Directory: 0844 8030 240
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC): 0808 800 5000
If you are under 18 feel unsafe, or simply want advice, please contact the NSPCC’s Childline on 0800 1111
If you have been affected by sexual abuse and need help there are many great organisations that you can rely on for support.
The Rape Crisis Centre Help line is 0161 273 4500.
National Victims support help line is 0808168 9111
the Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASAC) support Centre national number is 0808 802 9999.