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Fears that picture phones could be used by perverts to take pictures of half-dressed youngsters have prompted UK councils to ban the use of the technology at swimming baths and other public sports facilities.

Although there's no firm evidence that paedophiles have latched onto picture messaging phones (or come to that any evidence), council sports chiefs are still wary of the possibility. Councils throughout the country are therefore updating existing policies to tackle the issue, before it becomes a problem.

Leisure bosses in Carlisle have authorised staff to expel people using picture-messaging mobiles from the city's two main leisure facilities, local paper the News and Star reported yesterday. The move is an extension of existing Council policies that no filming or photography can be carried out at facilities without prior approval.

Separately, Wolverhampton Council has introduced similar policies, again designed to guard against the possibility of perverts obtaining illicit snaps of young children, which might then be exchanged across networks or the Internet to other paedophiles.

The fear is that the discreet lenses on pictures mobiles might it easier for paedophiles to take snap pictures of kids.

Wolverhampton Council leisure services boss Councillor, Bob Jones, told the city's Express and Star that it was acting on warnings from the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management and child protection groups about possible misuse of the technology.

"As far as we are aware, there have been no incidents involving the surreptitious taking of photographs. But we have to be alert," he told the paper.

Council staff have been given the authority to expel anyone caught breaching Wolverhampton's ban on using picture mobiles in council leisure facilities. Police would be called if a need to confiscate equipment arose.

Councils throughout the West Midlands are considering similar picture phone bans, the Express and Star reports. ®

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