Fears over changing room privacy at Hitchin pool raised again after man arrested and charged with voyeurism

Hitchin Swimming Centre

Hitchin Swimming Centre - Credit: Archant

Fears over changing room privacy at Hitchin Swimming Centre have been raised again after a man was arrested and charged with a voyeurism offence.

Concerns have been fuelled after Paul Cantor appeared at Hatfield Remand Court on Monday following an incident at the Fishponds Road centre this month – the third case at the pool in less than two years.

The 47-year-old, of no fixed home, was arrested on suspicion of recording a person doing a private act at the site around 10.30am on Saturday, March 5, and has pleaded not guilty.

This week’s charge follows incidents in June and August of 2014, the first which saw an e-fit of a man released after an 11-year-old was spied on while getting undressed at the Hitchin centre.

Two months later a 14-year-old boy was watched by a man while he was undressing in the male changing room.

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No charges were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service following the incidents.

To prove a voyeurism offence there must be evidence the suspect has observed a person doing a private act for the purpose of sexual gratification and knows the other person did not consent to it.

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A concerned Hitchin mother whose children use the swimming pool told the Comet: “What on earth is going on?

“This is the third incident in the last two years where someone has been accused of spying on young children.

“The staff at the pool are very dedicated people, but something has to be done as I don’t want to feel my kids aren’t safe in the changing rooms – or anywhere else there.”

The centre – which is run by Stevenage Leisure Ltd on behalf of North Herts District Council – welcomes 400,000 visitors every year, and is set for a seasonal increase in numbers once its outdoor pool opens in May.

Vaughan Watson, who is head of leisure at the council, said: “We appreciate users of the swim centre may be concerned – and keeping the public safe is of paramount concern to the council.

“We’ve been liaising with Stevenage Leisure and we’re confident they’ve followed appropriate procedures by alerting the police in a timely manner.”

SLL managing director Ian Morton said: “Our priority is to deliver a safe and enjoyable customer experience.

“Our procedures are robust and our staff vigilant.

“However, if anyone sees anything which makes them suspicious, please let the centre’s management know so they can take any appropriate action immediately”.

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