CCTV in community centre toilets ‘appals’ councillor

S34771H13''The New Fishersgate Centre.
S34771H13''The New Fishersgate Centre.

PARENTS ‘up in arms’ have demanded answers after a CCTV was discovered inside Fishersgate Community Centre’s public toilets.

At Adur District Council’s full meeting last month, a member of the Fishersgate Residents Association, made up of parents and residents that use the facility, asked committee members to find out who has access to the footage.

She said: “I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t been at the forefront of discussions that the community centre has been found with cameras in the toilet area. I have spoken to the police and the council and I’ve been reassured an investigation is underway.

“What I would like to know is confirmation from the council of the source – who the person is who has remote access? What determines when they can look at the videos? What’s the justification to have them in the toilets?”

Last month, Adur District Council took temporary possession of the community centre, following ‘serious safeguarding concerns’.

These included having a clear Safeguarding Policy to ensure that those running activities from the centre are safe and putting in place Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for all centre trustees.

Councillor David Donaldson told the Herald that parents were ‘up in arms’ because their children regularly use the on site toilets.

He said: “I was appalled to hear the information.

“It’s a great shame because we’re trying so hard to put Fishersgate together and this has put it back by a mile.”

Mr Donaldson claimed the cameras were installed by the Fishersgate Community Association (FCA) and had two remote access points.

He said: “I don’t know who did have access to it.”

However, in a letter to the council from the FCA’s solicitors, Griffith Smith Conway, it stated that the association had three access points to the live feed, all on site, including the reception PC, office PC and the CCTV DVR itself.

“The cameras are in the toilets to be able to access information in the event of damage.

“They have been placed in a position so as not to be able to directly see any personal act taking place.

“They were installed after multiple counts of damage to the toilet area and finally severe damage after a radiator was ripped off the wall.

“Great effort was made to ensure that the cameras did not include visibility of either the urinals or inside the cubicles and that the cameras could not be easily re-positioned to allow such a view.”

The solicitors clarified that there are signs all over the centre containing the notice ‘smile you are on CCTV’.

The letter also stated that the FCA is continuing to work with Adur Voluntary Action to complete outstanding DBS checks. These checks will include both volunteers and the trustees.

A spokesman for Adur and Worthing Council said it is in talks with its legal team over the matter, and believes there could be a ‘legitimate reason’ for its installation.

He said: “Adur District Council is working with the FCA’s solicitors to understand why there were CCTV cameras in the toilets at the centre.

“It may be that there is a legitimate reason – damage to property, or safeguarding concerns for example bullying incidents – for FCA installing the cameras, and we hope to have an answer for this soon.”

The council is now investing £30,000 into the centre and recreational ground. This will include a new children’s play area.

The Herald contacted the FCA for comment, but was unable to receive a response before going to print.

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