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Waikato Times
September 28 2006

Paedophile snappers force camera rethink
by Justine Turner

Paedophiles with cameras are forcing several Waikato sporting organisations and businesses to rethink their photography policies.

Gymnastics New Zealand took a hard line against the snappers during this week's national championships in Christchurch, making spectators register and label their cameras and cellphone cameras.

There was concern that the champs - where a team of 40 Waikato gymnasts are competing - would attract paedophiles who take photos and put them on the internet.

National gymnastics judge, coach and organiser Colin McMullien said one of his unofficial roles at gymnastics events was ensuring there were no suspicious people in the crowd.

"We do encounter the odd strange fellow in gymnastics," Mr McMullien said.

Gymnastics NZ's camera protocol was based on a ruling brought in by the sport's international body.

In the past there had been no restriction on cameras and cellphone cameras at children's sports events in the Waikato, but many officials said the issue would now be discussed.

Waikato Gymnastic Association president Neil Cox said he had not been aware of any problems but the latest concerns would prompt the association to take precautions and it would be brought up at its next meeting.

"We don't have any of our own policies on the issue and to date we haven't needed to take any action," he said.

"It's pretty sad that sort of thing is happening and I guess now we have to keep more of an eye out for it and will take more notice of it."

Swim Waikato president Humphrey Pullon said if other groups decided to ban cameras from events they would follow suit.

Gallagher Pools and Water World in Hamilton did not have policies on cameras and cellphone cameras, but swimming facility manager Elton Parata said if they were concerned about anyone they would be asked to leave.

More than 600,000 people visited the two facilities last year and Mr Parata said as far as he knew nothing sinister had occurred