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Legal probe into use of ‘anti-teen’ dispersal device

The Justice Department is to look at the legality of the use of a controversial ‘anti-teen’ device that emits a high-pitched sound to disperse groups of youths in areas plagued by anti-social behaviour.

Critics say the Mosquito unfairly targets all young people and not just those who may be causing a nuisance.

David Ford’s department has been scrutinising the legality of using the device, along with any human rights implications, to see if they should be banned. Department officials are to brief justice committee members in the new year on the policy in relation to its use in Northern Ireland.

Justice committee member David McNarry said careful consideration will have to be given to the benefits and drawbacks of the device.

“We cannot ignore investigating any tools that can perhaps make life easier for people whose lives are badly affected by anti-social behaviour,” the UUP MLA said.

“This device may work very well and prevent youths congregating in areas where they are known to cause bother. But this could just be shifting the problem to another area.

“We also need to look at the human rights implications, if there are any health implications and if this is discriminating against young people as a whole.”

A campaign in England to ban the device — headed by the children’s commissioner for England and backed by groups including civil liberties group Liberty — failed earlier this year when the Government said it has no plans to bring in a ban. However, the Government said it should only be used as a “last resort” against anti-social behaviour.

The device has proved popular with councils and police forces in England wanting to tackle nuisance problems, and some 3,500 are estimated to be in use there.

Belfast Telegraph