Britain rejects ban on 'mosquito' device to disperse gangs

29th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain says it has no plans to outlaw a device that emits a high-pitched mosquito-like drone to disperse groups of anti-social youths, despite criticism from an European rights group.

The Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based rights forum, last week called for a ban on the Mosquito device, saying it discriminates against young people and treats them as "unwanted birds or pests".

But British police minister Nick Herbert said this was not an issue on which ministers should intervene, and it was for local authorities dealing with anti-social behaviour to decide whether or not to use the Mosquito.

"In relation to the Council of Europe report and the issue of guidance, our stance is that we do not see this as an issue on which we should intervene," he said in a parliamentary reply Monday.

However, if there was evidence the device could damage young people's hearing, the government might reconsider its position, he added.

The Mosquito emits a powerful high-pitched drone that is a major irritant for people under the age of 20 but generally cannot be heard by those over 25.

More than 3,500 devices have been installed in Britain, often outside shops or on street corners where groups of youths like to congregate.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on Friday calling on its 47 members to ban the use of the device in all public places and ensure it is clearly signposted in private places.

Youngsters "feel that the Mosquito device is used as a weapon against them regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving. They feel victimised and offended and regard this treatment as clear discrimination," it said.

The irritating sound "was not a reasonable way of dealing with anti-social behaviour and merely displaces the problem," according to the resolution.

© 2010 AFP

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