In the UK today a new campaign called “Buzz off' has been launched by the Children’s Commissioner and supported by various groups including Liberty, to ban the sonic youth deterrent called 'Mosquito'. The device is manufactured by a Welsh company called Comound Security Systems [CSS] ( http://www.compoundsecurity.co.uk/teenage_control_produ....html ) The unit generates a painful pulsing, ultra-sonic, tone at around 16khz, which is close to the limit of the hearing range of people under 25 years old, but apparantly inaudible to anyone above that age.
Al Aynsley-Green, Children’s Commissioner for England, said he had spoken to many young people who had been “deeply affected” by the deterrents. He said: “These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving. “The use of measures such as these are simply demonising children and young people, creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old.”
UK Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti also said the device had no place in a country which values its children. “What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children? Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids,” she said.
The situation in Ireland
During late 2006 and throughout 2007, the Mosquito was hailed by the media and business owners as the solution to 'Anti social behaviour'. 100's of the units have been sold since. The main distributor (and only to the best of my knowledge) in Ireland is Tallaght based Devlin Retail Systems Ltd. On their website they proudly display the logo's of their customers who include Dublin and Athlone City Council, Tesco, Spar, Centra, Xtra-vision and more. Quote: "Already installed in a number of Residential Areas, Office Blocks, County Councils, Public Transport Departments, Shopping Centres, Universities, Schools". They also cite 'positive' (tabloid) press stories. More detailed information on Devlin Retail Systems and the Mosquito device can be found here.
Youth Work Ireland - Mosquito Device "legally questionable" - The device “is capable, in its ordinary use of perpetrating a criminal assault within the meaning of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, and therefore its user will leave himself , herself or itself liable to criminal prosecution”
Irish Examiner - Using mosquito devices on children could constitute assault, says ombudsman.
“We have had legal advice on it and it is an assault under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 if the noise is deliberately and intentionally targeted at a person as opposed to a general noise,” Michael McLoughlin of Youth Work Ireland.
Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997
2. —(1) A person shall be guilty of the offence of assault who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly—
( a ) directly or indirectly applies force to or causes an impact on the body of another, or
( b ) causes another to believe on reasonable grounds that he or she is likely immediately to be subjected to any such force or impact,
without the consent of the other.
(2) In subsection (1)(a), "force" includes—
( a ) application of heat, light, electric current, NOISE or any other form of energy
There are also legal issues to whether or not this device contravenes the Equality Act 2004 and Human Rights Act. Essentially what is needed in Ireland now is a test case.
Irish Teenagers views and experiences on the Mosquito -
"I suffer from tinnitus, due to ear surgery a few years ago (have very sensitive hearing i.e. it didn't impact on it). Not only can I hear those devices loud and clear, but they set off my tinnitus (ringing in my ears) extremely badly."
"My 13 year old daughter encountered one for the first time today, at a centre near a friends house. She says she found the noise unbearably painful."
"I'm in my 20s and can hear them. I'd classify them as extreme noise pollution and should be outlawed immediately. I would never shop in any store that uses one of these devices, to the level that I would actually boycott them for good."
http://www.mosquito.ie/ - In early 2007 a website appeared called mosquito.ie. A company called DB Acoustics ( http://www.dbacoustics.ie/ ) based in College Green, Dublin 2, published it. This website was dedicated to selling the Mosquito device. In late 2007 this website was taken down and DB Acoustics no longer sell this item. The archived version of this website can be viewed here.
You can listen to the Mosquito tones here. Be careful!
It is my belief that a similar campaign to ban this device should begin in Ireland. A national boycott of businesses that are using this technology is a good place to start. Indeed, if you know of a business who is using this device, post their information and location here. Moreover, if you have experienced the Mosquito effects, post your experiences here. If this device is left unchallenged it will probably lead the way for the introduction of more and similar devices. Indeed, Compound Security announced in 2007 that "We are now launching another security-related project within the next few months." This new product is the GSM Mosquito. It can be activated and deactivated simply by sending a text message to it via a mobile phone.
Other Press Stories 2007
RTE 'Mosquito' device examined
The Irish News
UK Press Stories - 12th February 2008
BBC - Calls to ban 'anti-teen' device
UK Times - Kids' commissioner calls for ban on Mosquito, ultrasonic anti-teen device
Guardian - Call for ban on audio device that targets young ears
SKY - Call To Swat Anti-Teen Mosquito Gadgets