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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 14:58 GMT
Sonic mosquito 'demonises teens'
Tamasin Ford
Radio 1 Newsbeat, in Burnley

The Mosquito is a device which emits a high-pitched sound to disperse groups of teenagers. Shopkeepers love the Mosquito but campaigners say they demonise young people.

Mosquito device
Only those under the age of 25 can pick up the high-pitched sound

Two weeks ago, it wasn't unusual to find 80 or 90 teenagers hanging outside the Stables restaurant in Towneley Park, Burnley.

But with the help of Lancashire police, the manager installed a Mosquito and he's had no trouble since.

It's thought around 3,500 of the devices are used in England, particularly in shopping centres. They give off a high-pitched sound that only children and young people can hear.

If you're over 25, it doesn't bother you, but 20-year-old Shamila can certainly hear it.

'Bottles everywhere'

She said: "The sound is like a screeching. It's really irritating. You can feel it in your ear and it hurts.”

But for Mr Ali, who runs the Stables, it's been a godsend.

He said: "They come over here at night-time. The drinking's not so bad, it's just the mess they make.

“We would come here on a Saturday morning and find broken windows. There would be bottles and sick everywhere, it was disgusting.”

However, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner for England, believes the Mosquito should be scrapped.

He was appointed by the government to speak out for kids. He says the devices demonise young people and don't tackle the root cause of anti-social behaviour.

Public protection

He's started a campaign called “Buzz off” to get the devices banned. There's already a move to get rid of them in Scotland.

PC John Fisher, the community beat manager for Rosehill and Burnley Wood, thinks the Mosquitoes should stay.

He doesn't agree with Sir Al that they cause a dangerous and widening divide between young and old.

He said: "It would be another tool removed in the fight against anti-social behaviour.

"I wouldn't say they're demonising anyone. What I would say is that we're protecting the general public.

"They're up here drinking underage, smoking illegal drugs and then they're going out committing damage.”

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