February 12, 2008
A gadget that disperses teenage gangs with high-pitched noise should be banned, according to human rights campaigners.
The Mosquito exploits young people’s ability to hear very high frequencies, a power which declines once they reach their 20s.
An estimated 3,500 devices are in use in England to deter children from loitering in areas like parks, shopping centres and around shops.
Children’s Commissioner Sir Albert Aynsley-Green has launched a campaign calling for a ban on grounds that the Mosquito infringes the rights of young people.
He said: “I have spoken to many children and young people from all over England who have been deeply affected by ultra-sonic teenage deterrents.
“These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving.”
“Young people have a right to walk about the streets, to congregate with their friends,” Rob Williams, from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, told Sky News.
“(They) are victims of anti-social behaviour too and Mosquito is not the way to stop anti-social behaviour.
“It does not stop it, it moves it … to a place that does not have a Mosquito.”
Backing the campaign, Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: “Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids.”
The Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton, from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, and is manufactured by Compound Security Systems.
He said: “People talk about infringing human rights but what about the human rights of the shopkeeper who is seeing his business collapse because groups of unruly teenagers are driving away his customers?”