Mosquito Teen-Repellent Device Can Now Irritate Grownups, Too

By Robin Millard
Agence France-Presse

LONDON ~ The makers of a controversial device designed to break up groups of teenager troublemakers have developed a new version capable of annoying everyone.

The original Mosquito device, launched in 2005, disperses young people by emitting an irritating high-pitched pulse which, at 17 kilohertz, most people aged under 20 can hear but almost nobody over 30 can.

Around 9,000 of them have been sold around the world by Welsh firm Compound Security Systems as shopkeepers and local authorities seek to ward off loitering youths.

But following demand for a device that would get rid of all undesirables regardless of age, the new Mark 4 version can operate at a lower eight kilohertz frequency that adults can hear too, annoying everyone within earshot.

“It’s something we’ve been asked for by a lot of law enforcement agencies in Britain and abroad,” Compound Security Systems commercial director Simon Morris said.

“Lots of people sleep rough who are over the age of 25 and a lot of people gather in subways; they just want to clear these people away.”

The new Mosquito Mark 4s went on sale in November at £495 (US$735) each and the first few hundred units have been shipped out to destinations like the United States and the Netherlands.

One police force near London – which wishes to remain anonymous – is using one in a particularly troublesome underpass.

“The older you get, generally the more intimidated you are by meeting a group of hooded youths at night in a confined space. It’s not pleasant and the older you get, the worse it is,” Morris said.

“It’s not really the frequency that’s the annoying part,” he explained.

“It’s the type of sound, the tone and how it’s pulsed. Because it’s not a constant tone, your brain can’t ignore it.”

But not everyone is happy with the devices, with campaigns in the European Parliament to ban them and some authorities wary of permitting them.

“We need urgent research and regulation by the authorities. It’s not going to stop determined criminals,” Shami Chakrabati, director of human rights group Liberty, told the BBC.

“It could cause damage to the rest of us and certainly make our lives a bit of a misery.”

Morris said the Mosquito manufacturers had not suffered due to the global financial downturn and the pound’s slump against other currencies.

“The exchange rate will do us good because 50 to 60 percent of our business is exports,” he said.

“The credit crunch, I think, will be good for us in the long run because the less money people have, the more likely they are to start going out and causing trouble.

“Usually when the economy turns down, the security industry picks up.”

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