Misbehaving pool users face two-year ban
People caught acting badly at Christchurch City Council-run swimming pools this summer could find themselves banned for two years.
In the past 12 months, 26 people have been trespassed from Christchurch's publicly-owned recreation and sports centres because their behaviour has been deemed inappropriate.
Twenty trespass notices have been issued to users of Jellie Park in Burnside and five at the Pioneer Recreation and Sports Centre in Spreydon and one at the Graham Condon Recreation and Sport Centre in Papanui.
Christchurch City Council recreation and sports unit manager John Filsell said people were only trespassed from council facilities as a last resort and usually only after discussion with police. In most cases it was because they had been stealing from other facility users or because they had been fighting or acting inappropriately.
The fights tended to be between youths but occasionally it was adults going toe-to-toe. Often such encounters were sparked because they felt a child was not being properly controlled or because someone was swimming at the wrong speed in a pool lane.
"We have a lot of sanctions we use that are not so drastic ... and 99 per cent of the time they work. In the very small percentage [of cases] that [it] doesn't we have a conversation with police, use our experience and make a decision on whether we should issue them with a trespass notice.
"It's a mandatory two years — we don't have any flexibility with that," Filsell said.
The biggest reason why people had been trespassed over the past year was because they had been stealing cellphones.
"It's a bit of a social problem that we are not trained or particularly good at fixing. We can't have that going on. We have to have our lifeguards watching the pools, not cellphones so we have to get those people [committing the thefts] out of there," Filsell said.
When asked why more people were trespassed from Jellie Park than from all the other sport and recreation facilities combined, Filsell said it was due to the facility's high number of irregular users.
With a long hot summer forecast and the city's pool facilities likely to be "chocka", Filsell said people would need to exercise some patience.
"If someone is getting on your nerves take a chill pill or talk to us rather than taking it into your own hands," he urged.
Regular Jellie Park user Greg Wilkie said he had never had bad experiences at the pool, but had seen some "shady boys" about a year ago.
"They were just sitting around the bags — they were clearly not swimming, so you could tell something was up."
One teenage swimmer said the pool was a "safe place for us to hang out without parents", but was advised to stay vigilant.
"My mum told me to put everything in a locker, just in case, although I think she's a little paranoid."
Pools are not the only council-run facilities from which people have been trespassed in the last year.
Figures released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act show that 26 people were trespassed from Christchurch libraries over the past 12 months.
One person was also trespassed from the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park due to their inappropriate behaviour. Two other people were trespassed from the Civic Offices and Living Earth, respectively, because of their threatening behaviour.