12 Feb 2008

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley today backed a campaign to end the use of ultrasonic devices to disperse young people from public areas.

The ultrasonic devices produce a high-pitched noise that can be heard, in general, by those up to the age of 26, when the ability to hear these higher pitched noises stops.

There are 3,500 of these devices already in use across the UK, and a number in use in Northern Ireland. 

Ms Lewsley said she was concerned at the use of the devices – sometimes marketed under the name Mosquito. She backed the campaign by her colleague, the English Children’s Commissioner, Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green.

“These devices don’t solve the problem of alleged anti-social behaviour,” she said. “Instead they simply move it to another area.

“They are also indiscriminate. Well-behaved children, toddlers, babies and young adults will experience the discomfort that is sometimes associated with these devices.”

Ms Lewsley said that these devices should not be used anywhere in Northern Ireland, but instead communities, Government and the private sector should engage children and young people to address the perception that children and young people are anti-social.

“I am about to conclude a consultation on the future work of NICCY,” said the Commissioner. “In the course of the consultation I have heard from young people that there are no facilities and often nothing to do where they live, so they are left with no choice but to ‘hang-out’ in public areas.

“I have also heard that they are fed-up with being stereotyped as ‘bad’ or anti-social. These ultrasonic devices label all children and young people with the stereotype of being bad. They should not be used.”