Campaigners are calling for hoodie-busting sonic weapon the Mosquito to be banned, claiming it targets innocent young 'uns and is an "infringement of their human rights", the Telegraph reports.
The Mosquito emits a high-pitched whine inaudible to the majority of adults over 30, while causing yoof ne'er-do-wells a level of irritation sufficient to drive them from any premises packing the device. Successful trials a couple of years back in a grocery store in Barry, South Wales, and a shop in inventor Howard Stapleton's home town of Merthyr Tydfil, provoked plenty of interest in the product, and there are now an estimated 3,500 deployed nationwide in the fight against anti-social tearaways.
However, a campaign led by the children's commissioner and backed by civil liberties outfit Liberty says the Mosquito should "Buzz off", as the slogan puts it.
Children's commissioner for England, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, explained: "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."
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti chipped in with: "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."
Stapleton is having none of it, and said he wants "a test case in the courts to firmly establish the legality of his invention".
He countered: "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? The noise is only emitted over a 15 metre radius and no one is taking away the rights of teenagers to walk away." ®