THE inventor of a device to deter loitering yobs has vowed to defend it in court after claims it infringes youths’ human rights.
Howard Stapleton, who devised the Mosquito which emits a high-pitched noise which can only be heard by young people, is being backed by South Wales shopkeepers who use it to keep troublemakers at bay.
The Children’s Commissioners for both England and Scotland have called for sales of Mosquitoes to be banned, and are now calling for young people to come forward to bring a test case. They have been supported in their call by Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty.
Mr Stapleton, of Merthyr Tydfil, said: “They can take me to court, it’s about time this got sorted out. I will certainly be fighting this all the way. What else can you do as a small businessman with a great invention that improves people’s lives? These people are going on about civil liberties but what about the civil liberties of people who just want to live their lives in peace without threats, intimidation and violence?”
Udam Singh, who owns the general store in the Gellideg Estate, Merthyr Tydfil, has been using a Mosquito since he first trialled it two years ago and said it had been a huge benefit.
He said: “It has been great. Usually if we turn the Mosquito on the youngsters will move on fairly quickly. It is quite rare that we have to go out and ask them to move on now. I think it has been fine and it hasn’t done anyone any harm. They could do with trying it in a few other problem places.”
Robert Gough, who runs the Spar shop in Barry Road, Barry, said the number of anti-social behaviour incidents reported to police decreased by 74 per cent after he started using a Mosquito.
He said: “For me the human rights of children who get slightly annoyed by it are in no way comparable to the number of times I’ve had knives pulled on me. It’s in no way comparable to the amount of times my staff have been attacked.”
But Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, who is leading the campaign called Buzz Off to ban the Mosquito, 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.”
Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner Kathleen Marshall has previously claimed the devices break young people’s rights to assemble, as embodied in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She described the devices as “sinister” and called for them to be withdrawn.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales was this morning unavailable for comment.