Liberty brings nationwide campaign against the “Mosquito” to Plymouth City Council

02 September 2008

Joined by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Liberty will argue that the mosquito is degrading and discriminatory because it affects all young people, not just those engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Plymouth City Council is holding the hearing in response to a petition brought by six 15-year-old Tamarside Community College students who asked for an investigation into the mosquito. The petition was initially rejected by Plymouth Cabinet member Peter Brookshaw.

Liberty’s Legal Director James Welch said:

“These devices are a sonic weapon directed against children. They have no place in a civilized society. How can we teach young people about dignity and respect if we treat all of them as trouble-makers?”

In May 2008, Liberty and a local youth in Lancashire convinced a Co-op store to curtail the use of the mosquito because of the possible effects on children from a nearby school for autistic students. The Co-op said in a statement: “The Co-operative Group is removing all Mosquito devices and will replace these with its classical music system where appropriate.” However, reports from Plymouth indicate that the Co-op stores in the area continue to use the mosquito device.

Liberty supports the “Buzz Off” campaign, spearheaded by young people and supported by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Groundwork and the National Youth Agency, which calls for an end to the use of mosquito devices. Liberty has campaigned to ban the mosquito device since it was introduced in the UK in January 2006. An estimated 3,500 of the devices are in use in England in shopping centres, parks and shops.

Contact: Jen Corlew on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors

1. BUZZ OFF is a partnership between the National Youth Agency, Groundwork’s Young People Friendly Neighbourhoods project in Corby, 11 MILLION – led by the Children’s Commissioner for England – and Liberty

2. On 27 June 2008, Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Phil Hope, in association with youngsters from Exeter estate in Corby, asked 100 people in secondary schools and tenants' and residents' associations in Corby for their opinions on the mosquito devices. Eighty-two percent of residents who completed the survey said the devices should be banned or regulated, and that the best way to deal with anti-social behaviour is to have more PCSOs and more for youngsters to do.

3. On 23 June 2008, the City of Edinburgh Council voted to ban the Mosquito ultrasonic youth deterrent system.

4. On 13 June 2008, Kent County Council banned the installation of the Mosquito device in its buildings.

5. On 28 April 2008, the Thames Valley Police Authority announced it would create guidance to specify the limited types of scenario where mosquito devices could be used.

6. On 1 April 2008, Socialist European MPs publicly condemned the use of the mosquito devices in the UK and urged European countries to ban them.

7. On 26 February 2008, Home Office Minister Lord Westhead said when asked about the Government’s policy on the mosquito device in a Parliamentary Question: “The Home Office encourages local agencies to consider the full range of innovations, schemes and practices intended to reduce crime, the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. It is for local agencies such as the police and local authorities to decide on the most appropriate interventions to tackle anti-social behaviour based on their knowledge of what works best locally, adopting a tiered approach to tackling anti-social behaviour using a blend of measures to provide a proportionate response.The Home Office does not recommend or promote any commercial ultrasonic dispersal device or venture and at the present time does not have any plans to take further action on this matter.”