Saturday, May 17, 2008

What's next? Boiling oil?

At the full meeting of Kent County Council on Thursday, a paper was debated on the proliferation of "mosquito devices" - In a move against groups of young people "hanging around" outside shops, a device has been developed which emits an electronic noise. This noise is of a frequency which can only be heard by the under twenty fives, and is intended to be so painful that the youths will move away outside its range, which is said to be around twenty five metres. The technology was developed by Howard Stapleton, an inventor based in Merthyr Tydfil.

Unfortunately, within that same range may be toddlers, babies in pushchairs and other young people simply going about their business. The reaction of babies and toddlers to the pain inflicted by this device may simply be to cry hysterically, without being able to identify the source of their discomfort.

The National Youth Council and human rights group Liberty, supported by the Children's Commissioner have jointly spearheaded a campaign called "Buzz Off" ( against the use of this technology.

Kent County Councillors were asked to vote on a motion to ban the mosquito device from all our buildings. One County Councillor, Michael Northey said he had found a website which allowed him to play the same noise, but at a slightly adjusted frequency so as to be heard by older age groups. He had played a two-second burst just five times, but was left with dizziness and nausea, the same reaction as young people are intended to feel.

What are we coming to? Are young people such an enemy that we need to use torture to drive them away?

The most concerning thing is that, despite the reaction of most sane, right thinking people - that devices such as this should surely be banned from sale - our Government has taken its usual position on the fence. It won't ban the devices, but simply allows Police forces and businesses to purchase them if they wish to.

For God's sake get off the fence Government. What's next? Boiling oil?

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