Home Secretary Alan Johnson has rejected calls to ban a device which emits high-pitched noises designed to cause discomfort to young people. At question time on 8 February 2010, he described The Mosquito™ as “very helpful” in dispersing groups of young people.
Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire, Labour)
When my right hon. Friend first took over as Secretary of State for the Home Department, I asked him whether he would consider banning mosquito devices, which send out high-pitched sounds which are very uncomfortable for children and young people. They are so effective and so uncomfortable for children and young people that they are often used to disperse them. If that were any other group, we would cry, “Discrimination!” Now that my right hon. Friend has had a chance to look at mosquito devices, will he ban them?
Alan Johnson (Home Secretary; Kingston upon Hull West & Hessle, Labour)
My hon. Friend is right. I remember well how she stumped me at my first Question Time, because I knew absolutely nothing about what she was saying. That is not uncommon for me, but I have since looked into the matter. There is evidence that shows that such devices can be helpful in the circumstances that Miss McIntosh described in Thirsk, for instance, where people feel that a congregation of rowdy young people is adversely affecting their quality of life. Where other systems to talk to those young people have not worked, those devices can assist the situation. Of course, there are health and safety aspects and the devices have to be used carefully, but I am afraid I am committed to using any device-or rather, devices that do not involve cruel and unusual punishments, but which bring about the improvement in behaviour that we all seek….