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11/08/2005

Teenager Repellant

             Noise Machine Deters Shop Gangs

Loud A shop manager's annoyance over problem teenagers hanging around his store is being tackled head on with a noise nuisance device.

The Mosquito, which sends out high-pitched soundwaves, is persuading gangs to move on.

Robert Gough, who runs the Spar shop in Barry, says the new nine-inch box is a success.

"Not everybody can hear it but definitely most teenagers can."

   In Santa Cruz CA, there is a 7-11 store that had a major loitering problem. Ten years ago, the parking lot was full of unruly teenagers and they were so boisterous, that it hurt the business. The owner started playing classical music through outside speakers. The teenagers vanished. The store still plays classical music and that store is one of the busiest in California.

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          Noise machine deters shop gangs
The Spar shop, Barry Road.
The small black Mosquito device is on the front of the Spar shop
A shop manager's annoyance over problem teenagers hanging around his store is being tackled head on with a noise nuisance device.

The Mosquito, which sends out high-pitched soundwaves, is persuading gangs to move on.

Robert Gough, who runs the Spar shop in Barry, says the new nine-inch box is a success.

As treasurer of PACT (Preventing Anti-Social Crime Together), Mr Gough hopes more businesses will be helped.

It's like a buzzing noise. I didn't know where it was coming from, it's not terrible.
Shopper Gerda Hunt

The box, placed on the outside wall of the store, emits an 80-decibel pulsing frequency between certain hours.

Many older customers cannot hear it - but teenagers, who previously congregated in the evenings - have complained to Mr Gough about the noise.

"Not everybody can hear it but definitely most teenagers can," he said.

"We just put it up and said nothing to the teenagers, then they came in to complain. They were literally begging me to turn it off.

"I told the kids it was to keep the birds away because of the bird flu epidemic. They waited for their friends and left covering their ears," added Mr Gough.

Robert Gough
Robert Gough says the problem of youngsters is worse at night

Mr Gough says gangs of around half a dozen up to 30 people have been hanging around the shop.

"They usually move on if I ask them but the problem has always existed," said Mr Gough, who has run the shop for 15 years.

The shopkeeper, aged 34, said: "I can hear it as well. My son's 14 and my daughter's 12 and it really irritates them. If we are standing here they say 'Come on dad, let's get in the car'."

Shoplifting

Mr Gough said he was "very pleased" with the results and claims shoplifting has also dropped.

Shopper Gerda Hunt, aged 62, said: "I could hear it last night but I can't hear it now.

"It's like a buzzing noise, I didn't know where it was coming from, it's not terrible."

One seventeen-year-old, who did not want to be named, said she thought it was the device was a good idea.

"It's like a high-pitch buzz. My dad comes here a lot and he hates it," she added.

Inventor Howard Stapleton, of Compound Security Systems in Merthyr, said the idea was born after he was irritated by a factory noise when he was a child.

Years later, he thought about deterring youths from a Merthyr shop and tested a device at a Penydarren shop.

He said the Mosquito emits several tones all in and around 16Khz.

Mr Stapleton said he has spoken to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and his local environmental health department about the invention.

Audiologist Roger Lewin, from the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, said the noise could be heard by any age and would depend on the level of hearing.

He said concern could arise if anybody had to listen to it through no choice of their own - such as a shopworker or a baby parked in a pram outside the shop.   BBC

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Comments

Isn't it funny how sound can be such an irritant that it makes you nuts. hmmm. That might be a dufus understatement, but I'm impressed that some have found sound a useful tool to handle situations that are aggravating.

I had bus/traffic duty once when I taught, and I'd have to hold a whole line of cars back as the buses passed by. There was one vehicle that had a bass system in it that could play notes that would make your heart flutter. The guys lined up in the queue and turned on this noise every day, day after day. I don't mean to sound like some kind of pussy, but that noise almost brought me to tears every single day. It really destroyed me so bad that by the time duty was over, I was a nervous wreck. And, yes, I stopped them one day and asked them not to do it, but they just laughed and though it was great they were pissing off a teacher. Actually, it was pretty amazing how that noise crushed me. Hard to explain.

I need this in my cube at work.

My job as an Anti Social Behaviour Reduction Officer sees me looking on a daily basis at anything that can "do exactly as it says on the tin" "Mosquito" has been badged as a revolutionary new device that has been specifically designed to disperse groups of teenagers from loitering in areas that they are not wanted. With an effective range of between fifteen and twenty meters, the field trials have shown that teenagers are acutely aware of the Mosquito and usually move away from the area within just a couple of minutes. I looked into this great idea for an instant cure for a "youth anti social issue” It seems that there is a medical phenomenon known as presbycusis or age related hearing loss which, is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they grow older. Hearing loss is a common disorder associated with ageing. About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that 40-50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss. According to The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, this begins after the age of 20 but is usually significant only in persons over 65. It first affects the highest frequencies (18 to 20 kHz) notably in those who have turned 20 years of age. It is possible to generate this high frequency sound that is audible only to teenagers. The Mosquito is essentially a sounder unit that emits a very high (ultra-sonic). The longer someone is exposed to the sound, the more annoying it becomes. Teenagers are acutely aware of the Mosquito and usually move away from the area within just a couple of minutes. Sainsburys are amongst Several big retail companies actively using the device and somerfield too are contemplating following. Indeed this week at the ACPO conference it is believed that ACPO themselves will endorse this as a great step in combating Anti social behaviour. But the Anti social youth make up 1.3 % of the youth population so is this unit blanketing and tarring all youth with the same brush. What about the young mum on her way into the shops to get a pint of milk, The law abiding trainee mechanic and the two college students aren't all these affected too. I think it is established that this measure is effective but does it breach Human rights. Does this justify the use of such a tool and will it not just move the problem small percentage of youth into the dark alley where they can cause more alarm to the public. Should these companies not be looking at community unification and working with police and local communities in trying to find alternative places and funding for youth projects. Its well known that these companies thrive well in the communities where their shops are situated. I wont be advising anyone to purchase one of these and will be watching closely to see if a young person will be challenging the human rights issue. Ian Whiteway www.anti-social-behaviour.co.uk

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