Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Use of mosquito device in Bradford criticised

Youths in street
The device emits a high-pitched sound audible to young people

A youth service director has criticised the use of a mosquito device which emits a high pitched noise to disperse youngsters in Bradford.

Miriam Jackson, from the Youth Work Unit, said it seemed like "we're seeing our young people as pests".

Police said the electronic device had stopped youngsters gathering and causing problems in Baildon.

The small box works by emitting an high-pitched sound which is said to be only audible to young people.

It is said to only work on youngsters because people suffer progressive hearing loss, especially higher frequencies, from the age of 20 onwards.

Ms Jackson said: "It seems to me that we're seeing our young people as pests.

Would we treat any other group in our society this way?
Miriam Jackson, director of Youth Work Unit

"It's part of that whole negative stereotyping of young people where when you see groups of young people, instead of seeing them as normal groups of citizens on the street, we are intimidated and scared by them, even when they are not causing trouble."

A campaign backed by the England's children's commissioner was started in 2008 to ban the use of such devices.

Egg throwing

Ms Jackson said: "Would we treat any other group in our society this way? There is a huge amount of anti activity."

She added: "I think we've got to separate out and make sure we treat our young people fairly."

Rizan Ahmed, owner of Jani's restaurant in Baildon, said a mosquito box outside his property had stamped out anti-social behaviour.

Mr Ahmed said he had suffered problems with youths for more than two years.

"(They were) throwing eggs at the front of the window, standing in front of the window and messing about with the customers.

"Now it's perfectly fine."

Inspector John Tathum, from West Yorkshire Police, said the mosquito device was one of a number of tactics used to target troublesome youths.

"With the assistance of the premises owner we've installed a mosquito and that has helped free up officers to do other duties but it's also moved the problem on, in fact it's stopped the problem entirely at Baildon."

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