Three-hourly checks for cameras at pools

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2014
pool sign
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

WARNING: A sign at Rangiora's Dudley Park Aquatic Centre warns users that electronic devices are not allowed in changing rooms.

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North Canterbury pool staff are checking changing rooms every three hours for hidden cameras, as councils across the region move to thwart perverts.

Waimakariri District Council introduced the changing room "sweeps" as part of a new safety policy, after police told them about an increase in covert filming, using anything from mobile phones to cameras disguised as pens.

It hopes to prevent a repeat of an incident late last year, where a man placed his cellphone under a family changing-room door at the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre in Rangiora to film a woman and her children.

Police concerns are noted in a council community and recreation committee report on the policy to be tabled today.

The policy forbids the use of cellphones in changing rooms and requires staff to "sweep" the rooms every three hours, removing any personal property left unattended and leaving a note in its place.

The Christchurch Police Intelligence Group had told the council of a rise in incidents in which recording devices were left in areas such as public changing rooms, the report said. Committee chairman Robbie Brine, a regular swimmer, ordered the report after staff removed his belongings from the Dudley pool changing rooms and held them at reception.

Brine said it was "a shame" such a policy was needed, but "for the safety of all concerned I can understand it".

Christchurch City and Selwyn councils have banned the use of any video or photographic devices, including cellphones, in recreation centre changing rooms.

Parents were allowed to photograph only their own children swimming in the Selwyn Aquatic Centre and staff checked photos if deemed necessary, aquatic facilities manager Kathy Moore said.

Any photography in Christchurch pools required permission from facility management, a council spokeswoman said.

Ministry of Justice figures show the number of people charged with the "intimate covert filming" offence has been steadily increasing since legislation took effect in December 2006.

Waimakariri District Council aquatic facilities manager Simon Hart said the new policy was "all about prevention".

COVERT FILMING

People charged with covert filming offending:

2006/2007: 3

2012/2013: 43

Source: Ministry of Justice 

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