Mosquito inventor seeks new site to test antisocial behaviour deterrent
Written by CSS Admin on Friday 01 October 2010
THE inventor of a device used to drive young yobs away from shops on Oxford's Blackbird Leys estate is now looking to test it in a second location.
Howard Stapleton said there had been a "substantial reduction" in antisocial behaviour outside the Premier Supermarket, in Pegasus Road, since his Mosquito was turned on in August.
The device emits a high pitched buzzing noise, making it uncomfortable for under-25s to stay near it for more than 10 minutes.
The machine is hooked it up to a CCTV camera, and turned on only when it is needed, rather than coming on automatically, as at other locations.
Mr Stapleton organised the free trial to prove the device could be used selectively - following complaints from human rights group Liberty that it targeted everyone under 25, even babies.
Now he is looking to move it to another antisocial troublespot in the city.
The shop owner in Blackbird Leys who declined to be named, said antisocial problems had improved a lot since it had been installed, but said he could not afford the £100-a-week Mr Stapleton would charge for him to keep the gadget.
He said: "All the groups of teenagers have gone now, the Mosquito has made the situation a lot better. We have had no complaints or police cars down here. It's a good thing. We don't want it to go but we can't afford it."
Problems at the Premier Supermarket included antisocial behaviour, gangs of youths intimidating customers, drinking, drug dealing, smoking and littering.
Last night, Mr Stapleton said: "I think we've more than proved it has worked. If anyone would like to come forward with another site, we would be happy to consider it for a free trial.
"We're looking for suggestions from the police and community."
Mr Stapleton, from Cardiff, turned on the gadget on August 3 and switched it off in early September.
It costs about £100 a week to rent the equipment complete with CCTV monitoring. Mr Stapleton said: "Antisocial behaviour definitely did improve at the shop. There has been a substantial reduction in large groups gathering.
"When we were turning the Mosquito on, within 15 to 20 minutes that group would disperse. In our experience, normally after you've broken the back of the problem, peace reigns for about three or four months."
Mr Stapleton said the gadget was turned on about 20 times in the first two weeks.
Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said the gadget should stay where it was, as that was the estate blackspot for antisocial behaviour.
He said: "It has acted as a deterrent, but I think it needs to stay there a bit longer.
"If they get to know it has gone, then they will congregate there again."
Other possible test sites could be outside the Spar shop in Dunnocks Way, or Top Shops in Blackbird Leys Road.
Author: Emily Allen