An investigation has been launched after a mum reported fears that a teenager had allegedly taken pictures of her and her young daughter over the top of a changing room cubicle.
Victoria Charlesworth had gone for a swim with her husband and seven-year-old daughter at Wellingborough’s Waendel Leisure Centre, but the family trip soon turned into a nightmare for them.
I cannot get it out of my head, I still feel sick.Victoria Charlesworth
After their swim at lunchtime on Sunday, Mrs Charlesworth and her daughter were getting changed in a cubicle when something prompted her to look up and she says she saw a camera phone facing towards them.
The mum from Wellingborough said: “As I looked up I saw a black mobile phone with the camera side facing us above the cubicle.
“I immediately asked what the hell the person was doing and the phone was removed and I was given the response by a male: ‘What? I haven’t done anything.’
“How did this person know I was talking to him?”
She immediately left the changing room to call a member of staff.
She also asked for the police and her husband, who had been waiting for them in the spectator area, came in and started banging on the cubicle door from where the camera phone had been seen.
Mrs Charlesworth said he took the phone from a teenage boy to look through, but found no images in the phone gallery.
Staff spoke to the youngster and Mrs Charlesworth said: “Admittedly I was angry, upset, shaking and feeling physically sick trying to process what had just happened, which I believe to be a natural response to the situation.
“The manager bought me a coffee and then left to join the boy in the room. I was not once offered any privacy and had to sit while customers were looking on at me while I had to pretend to be calm.
“Thankfully the police arrived soon after and, as is natural, showed empathy and understanding as I explained what had just happened.”
Days later, Mrs Charlesworth is still upset and said: “I cannot get it out of my head, I still feel sick, haven’t been able to eat, honestly I feel traumatised and violated.”
And added: “What if it was my teenage daughter on her own, or anyone’s child for that matter, or even another adult who may not realise it was happening?
“It is just not acceptable.”
Mrs Charlesworth said she thinks the unisex changing rooms with open tops and bottoms are unacceptable and there should be a review of the set-up so an incident like this cannot happen again.
The mum added: “All I wanted was to take my daughter for a nice afternoon out and it turned into a nightmare that will live with me for a long time.”
The leisure centre is run by Places for People Leisure Ltd for Wellingborough Council.
Places for People contracts manager Simon Churchman said: “We can confirm that an incident occurred on Sunday, March 1, at Waendel Leisure Centre.
“The site team dealt with the situation and the police were immediately called and attended site. We want people to have an enjoyable experience of Waendel Leisure Centre and we are working in partnership with Wellingborough Council to assess if there are any further measures that can be implemented.”
A police spokesman said: “We went out to the leisure centre and we investigated, but there was no evidence of any offence being carried out.”
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Council principal community support manager Gill Chapman, said: “Waendel Leisure Centre is run by Places for People on behalf of the council and we will be working with them to make sure a thorough investigation takes place.
“We would expect a number of aspects to be reviewed, and action taken where any shortcomings are identified in light of this.
“This is obviously a distressing time and we will stay in contact with Mrs Charlesworth to keep her informed.”