back to article Council of Europe condemns teen-bothering Mosquito

The Council of Europe has voted to 'ban' the Mosquito anti-youth device, despite having no power to enforce the ban, as the device's manufacture is keen to point out. The Mosquito is a small device that makes a buzzing sound below the hearing threshold of (almost) everyone over 20, thus dispersing groups of yoofs who might …


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  1. Lottie


    So according to the manufacturers, the teenagers need a reason to congregate.

    How about just hanging out? I seem to recall I did a lot of pointless hanging around when I was younger.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      I believe the issue is when "yougnsters" "hang out" on private property. Admittedly, I haven't followed the saga too much, but there are plenty of cases where I have read about specific groups of [insert here: teenagers/homeless/what-have-you] that have been politely asked to leave property and refused. The requests become less and less polite, until the police are called to manage the invasion of groups of people onto private property.

      The issue becomes having to call the police every single time, most especially since these groups of individuals take quite a bit of offence to being shooed away. They tend to purposefully return to make their point, and it quickly escalates from “hanging out” to “stubbornly being a pain in the ass.”

      Depending on how badly the property owner wants these individuals off their land, the rousting and removal may become a regular occurrence, at which point the Police simply cease caring and refuse to help. Once this has happened, the landowner can try private security, but most likely doesn’t have the funding for it. IN many cases I have seen things turn ugly and violent at this point.

      Both parties know the police aren’t going to respond to any more calls to this location, and so the group of individuals takes it upon themselves to exact a little retribution. Usually this in in the form of vandalism, though I know several people who have been assaulted to within inches of their lives.

      It usually starts with a small business owner, say a mechanic or a convenience store owner who is afraid of vandalism or trouble from a gang of what to his eyes are bored individuals looking for trouble. A few bad choices on his part, stubbornness and a desire to “damn the man” from the gathered group of individuals as well as eventual (or immediate) apathy from law enforcement have the scenario typically end badly for one party or the other.

      So what then? Something like the Mosquito? It’s a little indiscriminate, but in the above situation might be seriously considered by the relevant small business owner. (It is probably a terrible idea, as it will immediately draw retribution, but that’s another story entirely.)

      Individuals have the right to gather on public property and loiter if that’s what they choose to do. They don’t have the same privileges on private property, which is where this whole fiasco usually comes to a head.

      If any “groups of people” regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, employment status, or technological fanboydem chooses to gather in a public place then I would defend to the death their right to do so. When they make the choice to do so on private property and refuse to respect the rights of the property owners, then the whole situation becomes a lot fuzzier.

      I would condemn the use of these devices as a first-use item, or even as a generic pro-active offensive weapon. I would not condemn their use against an entrenched group of individuals who have been warned several times but who simply refuse to comply with the private property laws of their jurisdiction. People have the right to gather in public places, but private property owners have a right to defend what is thiers.

      So if not something like this device, what is the solution? I don't know, but I wish I did. I know a few people who would benefit from knwoing it too.

      1. Lottie

        Iss your point

        but the problem comes when they're used in public spaces like town centres. Sound doesn't just stop at the barrier of private land so even if they aren't hanging around on private property, but only near it they're still being assaulted by it.

    2. M Gale

      I used to do that... banger of a motorbike, on old slagheaps.

      Well the slagheaps are a rubbish tip now, and the local Plod will chase you on quads and crush the bike. Can't do that any more.

      Used to take the old air rifle out as well, and terrorise the local can/bottle population. Try that these days and I'll be down for 28 days without charge.

      Hang out in the middle of a park/field with music going and a bunch of mates? Sorry, no can do any more. You'll get your boom box confiscated under some illegal-rave law.

      It's now pretty much impossible to do anything your average 16-18 year old would find "fun" that doesn't cost a boatload of money or isn't highly illegal and actively enforced against. Not trying to say that there aren't, and haven't always been, some nasty bastards out there. However, for hell's sake, give teens something to do (or at least let them make up their own fun) and they might not hang around outside shops getting rat-arsed for want of something better (and by better I don't mean 'more productive') to do.

  2. Oliver Mayes

    Doesn't break any laws?

    So I'm free to wander the streets at all hours blasting people randomly with an air horn am I? If playing loud annoying noises at one group of people is legal then surely it's legal to do it at anyone?

    I'm 25 and I can hear these things clearly, at best it's a breach of the peace, and at worst it's unprovoked assault.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Too Bloody Right!

      For me it's definitely assault (just not the bodily-type), but likely best to get the local council health and safety office (if there is one after the budget has run through like and enema) to count the decibels and then get he police out to have what I would hope are strong words. Of course that's if it is only a private citizen, if I've got to walk past the police pumping out the ultra-sonics I'll treat it as if they decided to lump some tear-gas my way and reach for the police complaints/compensation forms.

      Oh to be one of the continually surprised, wandering the world like a gold fish, seeing anything as though it's the first moment in the history of the universe. We have more than enough laws in the UK to be deal with anything you can imagine (and likely more beyond) since the events and actions that can ruin your day or end your life haven't changed much since Hammurabi.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Paris Hilton

      Umm, nope, you can't ban vuvuzelas either

      "I'm 25 and I can hear these things clearly, at best it's a breach of the peace, and at worst it's unprovoked assault."

      So are vuvuzelas, yet a well deserved ban on that menace is impossible. I don't like the &%/* thing, but if getting rid of it means losing the laws that protect some of the last freedoms we have I will suffer it (that is, until the WK is over).

      You see, the device doesn't leave the youth without options - they can simply go elsewhere. It's the equivalent of dumping some rotten fish at places where you don't want people, with the difference that fish smell is harder to switch off, and may attract cats.

      Actually, "cats" is exactly where the real threat for the manufacturer lies: if anyone finds a way to prove it harms animals they *will* have a problem.

      Paris, because she can make any noise she wants.

  3. RichardB

    Should use a different frequency...

    how about the Brown Note...?

    That would be degrading...

    1. Graham Marsden

      The Brown Note is a myth...

      ... as Mythbusters demonstrated.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hate the things

    I am 37 and can hear them and my autistic son goes bat shit when he hears them so much that I have to avoid most of my town center.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not the only one

      I'm 27 and I still can hear them too. It's nothing a MP3 player with noise cancellation headphones can't solve tho.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    So how does the "Mosquito"

    differ from the [ultra]sonic cat repellers then? A quick google turns up one that operates between 18kHz and 24kHz and is triggered by a motion detector.

    And do the cat repellers infringe on Compound Security's patents or is it the other way round?

    Ear defenders required, obviously

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a specific law that the technology breaks"

    I wouldn't expect there to be "a specific law" against this but I would expect there to be some sort of general-purpose law against deliberately annoying people or making an unpleasant noise in a public place.

    I mean, if they can ASBO people for having noisy sex ...

  7. 46Bit

    Bloody hell

    This device should be throuroughly illegal, at least in a lot of circumstances it's used in. My local corner shop, right in the middle of a housing estate and with houses all around, manages to have this thing on 24 hours a day. It's RIGHT NEXT TO A SCHOOL, next to PEOPLE'S FUCKING HOUSES.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      You may have an actual case there

      The device should not be on 24h, and it doesn't perform as advertised (you can hear it) so it's the equivalent of a burglar alarm that cannot be switched off. If a judge would approve of that in a nuisance case he'd basically neuter the noisy sex ASBO (intentional pun).

      I think you have a case there, which you can strengthen by checking if pets are affected. If so, the owner is actively interfering in your life, and *IS* committing a breach of the peace (AFAIK, IANAL and I suggest you get a sensible one).

      1. 46Bit


        The one snag is that I'm actually still well within it's targeted age range.

    2. M Gale

      Climb up, snip wires. Drill hole, insert water. Whatever.

      Not that I'm actually suggesting you do such a thing, oh no.

      However I'm wondering how long it would take before the shopkeeper notices anything different.

  8. The Other Steve

    but if you're over 20 you'll almost certainly not hear anything

    Balls. I'm well past 30 and I can hear the sodding things just fine thanks.

    1. IR

      Same here

      Even 20 years of loud rock music doesn't seem to have affected my ability to hear these things.

      1. Jos

        Dang right

        Up to my last physical at age 34 I had a cut-off at around 22Khz. I can still hear the older CRT TVs when the fire up. They would only work for me (apparently) at around 8Khz when I close my left ear... Thanks to standing next to a monitor at a Camel concert (am I showing my age here?)

        Mine's the one with the earplugs in the pocket....

  9. simcard

    Should be banned

    I'm 27 pushing 28, can hear these bloody things as clear as day.

    They would never be tolerated if they targeted any other minority in society.

    FYI they seem to be fairly common in Ireland, outside convenience stores and shopping centres.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


      "outside convenience stores "

      So, with apologies to Gary Larson, they are now INconvenience stores?

      The one with the vuvuzela, thanks

  10. Lamont Cranston


    "Article 11 of ECHR provides a right to assemble with other people in a peaceful way. However, such assembly must be without violence or threat of violence ... we do not consider that this right includes the right of teenagers to congregate for no specific purpose,"

    So, by default, any gathering of teenages equals the threat of violence, yet a purposeless gathering of "grown ups" would not?

    Fuck off, Compound Security. If this device were targetting any other section of society, you would be shot down in flames (and quite rightly so), but children/young people are automatically seen as a threat to the rest of us. If we expect/assume that all young persons are going to act as thugs, then they probably will, and serve society right.

    FWIW, I'm 32, and therefore beyond the range of these wretched devices.

  11. Miek
    Thumb Down

    Works on me

    I can hear sounds (although faint) in the 18-20kKHz range and I am 29. If I were to find one in my town centre; it would certainly get smashed to pieces.

  12. Subban

    I can hear 16khz

    Just did a google search for some 16khz test sounds, and I can hear it.... I just hit 40 today, so I call bollocks on the theory that no one over 20 can hear it.

    I don't think my hearing is perfect either, I have trouble hearing people against background noise, more so than most (estimated number) folks.

    Range of test tones from around 11khz to 18khz.. I can hear them all.

    Speakers used are pretty expensive Logitech THX certified, should be no problems with upto 20khz.

  13. John Robson Silver badge

    95 dB

    Shouldn't they be subject to noise regulations.

    That's a dangerous volume for any significant amount of time. So anyone who works anywhere near one should get ear defenders etc.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban them

    The security company are just talking shit to try and protect their income. Their stance suggests that any gathering of teenagers constitutes a "threat of violence". Bollocks, I used to hang around with my mates when I was younger just because we liked to be outside somewhere, not because we wanted to cause any particular disturbance.

    These are just plain victimisation. And remember that even if you can't actually HEAR the tone, it's still vibrating your sodding ear drums, and at that volume level it will probably still cause hearing problems over an extended length of time. Think of it like a silent fart - just because you can't hear it doesn't mean that later on you won't end up choking on it...

  15. Christoph

    Free to walk away?

    "saying that anyone is free to walk away"

    Are the people working in the shop 'free to walk away'?

    Are the people working in other shops nearby 'free to walk away'?

    Are the people living in nearby houses 'free to walk away'?

    Are the infants and young children being dragged round by their parents 'free to walk away'?

    Are the teenagers being dragged round by their parents 'free to walk away'? "Nonsense! I can't hear anything! Stop moaning!"

    So people minding their own legal business on the public highway are 'free to walk away'?

    Sonic weapons are sonic weapons. Sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander. If this thing is legal then so is a sonic weapon which is acceptable to teenagers but extremely offensive to adults. Anyone deploying one of these has *no right whatsoever* to complain if teenagers stand around with ghetto blasters pumping out the latest music craze at high volume.

  16. jonathanb Silver badge

    Ban them immediately

    A quick google search suggest that the average smoke detector blasts out its noise at 85 decibells. This is about 10 times as loud as that. There is no way you would be allowed to use a lower frequency alarm to chase away older people, so why should young people be treated any differently.

  17. Graham Marsden

    I'm 45 and I can hear the noise.

    So if a business wants to lose my custom, please, go ahead and use them...

  18. heyrick Silver badge


    Up to 95dB for up to 20 minutes? WTF? Isn't this wandering into health issues, not to mention public nuisance? Isn't there a law limiting the length of time an unattended burglar alarm can sound for? How is this different? Does the frequency oscillate or is it fixed? That sort of power, that sort of time, fixed frequency - hearing damage, anyone?

    If I was unfortunate enough to live near one of these things, I'd be inclined to lash together a high frequency detector (ummm, didn't Really Old TV remotes work like this?) to switch on a car horn. See how the bastards like THAT. Just 'cos *YOU* can't hear anything doesn't mean the rest of us are happy with the noise.

  19. Matt 21

    I can hear them

    Just did an Internet sound test and as an over 40 I can hear them no problem!

  20. Anonymous Coward


    I spend most of my life congregating for no specific purpose.

    As an aside, an ex-gf's multi-story block had a sign: No Congregating In The Lobby. Out of the corner of my eye, it always looked to me like Consecrating. I used to imagine the caretaker regularly chasing away groups of bishops.

    Can Bishops hear this machine, by the way?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re. Bishops

      "Can Bishops hear this machine, by the way?"

      No, but you've just given him another use for catholic children..

      The cassock, thanks.

  21. Paul 4

    Im 30

    and can hear up to 17 khz, and my hearing is fucked thanks to rideing a motorbike. It sounds like nonsense, or old data, that over 20s can't hear it.

    These things should be band, and if I ever hear one I am complaining to the local environmnetal health about the noise.

  22. Chas

    There's no apparent breach of H&S regulations because...

    The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 do not apply in this instance since the people affected are not at work. This is much the same as someone going to a club to hear a band - staff working at the venue should be provided with ear protection but punters, because they are not part of the workplace, are exempt. For the curious, the action levels in the workplace are as follows:

    Exposure limit values and action values

    4. —(1) The lower exposure action values are—

    (a) a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 80 dB (A-weighted); and

    (b) a peak sound pressure of 135 dB (C-weighted).

    (2) The upper exposure action values are—

    (a) a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 85 dB (A-weighted); and

    (b) a peak sound pressure of 137 dB (C-weighted).

    (3) The exposure limit values are—

    (a) a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 87 dB (A-weighted); and

    (b) a peak sound pressure of 140 dB (C-weighted).

    (4) Where the exposure of an employee to noise varies markedly from day to day, an employer may use weekly personal noise exposure in place of daily personal noise exposure for the purpose of compliance with these Regulations.

    (5) In applying the exposure limit values in paragraph (3), but not in applying the lower and upper exposure action values in paragraphs (1) and (2), account shall be taken of the protection given to the employee by any personal hearing protectors provided by the employer in accordance with regulation 7(2).

    Having said that, it's still bloody annoying - and I'm over 50 and can still perceive these frequencies (just). More annoying are those damned Zulu kazoos you can hear on the World Cup footie - it's ruined the game for me.


  23. 205guy

    Seems to be a UK thing

    I was originally thinking that something like this on a shop's private property would be justifiable, but now I realize that it is essentially blasting into the public spaces. In the US (outside of a few major cities), a convenience store would have a parking lot in front, so the sound would be attenuated by the time it reached the public sidewalk.

    Plus, I agree that the company's statement about purposeless assemblies being not being a right is asinine.

    Shouldn't a pair of noise-cancelling headphones work against this?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      It is worse than that

      In the UK, a typical convenience store looks something like this

      Note how close the residential properties are to it. If there was a very loud alarm of some description above the door to that shop, people in the nearby houses are going to hear it, and they are not going to be able to get any sleep or do their homework etc.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Do you hear something, teacher?

    When are the going to install them in classrooms?

    1. TimeMaster T


      I've already heard about students using this tone as a ring-tone on their phones when in a classroom.

  25. Jack 4


    ...there is another method that has been proven (At least in the various articles I've read where it's been tried in the US.) to disperse young people hanging around shops and so forth. It's called playing classical music.

    In the cases I've read about, playing classic music at a moderate volume outside of shops and the like where teenagers tended to congregate was sufficient to drive them off in search of another "cooler" location without risking anyone's hearing or putting off anyone who was there to do business.

    Perhaps some of the places using this "mosquito" thing could try that instead?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Might lose other customers too..

      This won't exclusively work on teenagers. Even those liking classical music will get annoyed because it's bound to be played through pathetic speakers that will mangle frequency and dynamic range, annoying anyone who knows what it *ought* to sound like..

      Bizarrely, I think playing music is actually easier to act against, I think there are a few laws with respect to that. The device falls presently in a legal void, or that is at least what the manufacturer is trying to pretend. I'm not sold on that position.

      BTW, I am starting to wonder if some people who state they can hear it aren't picking up case resonance instead..

  26. Fair Play for Children
    Thumb Down

    Mosquito=Electronic Vigilante

    Does The Register condone the Mosquito? In all the debate we have not heard about those most likely to be distressed or hurt by the device's use, babies and the very young whose hearing is the most acute and many of whom cannot tell us what it is that is distressing them. Nice one, Compound Security. Their call for a regulated framework for its use is so much hypocritical hogwash - what sort of people sell a device which they say should not be used unregulated? Their site is smug in its claims about how they are getting away with selling it. The advertising claims have included that it's for scaring away 'unwanted' teenagers? Who the hell do they think they are? The laws of this land permit people to congregate and to go about their lawful business without hindrance. The attitudes that underlie the use of this wretched device are all too prevalent in this country. Small-minded people who don't give a toss about whose rights they tread on so long as they have things the way they want them. One of the reasons kids stay indoors? Whining neighbours, I know, I confronted it with my 2 kids years back. The Council of Europe is the 'home' body for the European Convention, which is now part of our law through the HRA. So it may have an indirect effect. Time to kick this vermin into touch.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best yet.

    Travelling on the train the other day, in the quiet carriage, when some maroon gets on the mobile to whinge about being annoyed by these devices .

  28. Stratman


    It woud be quite difficult to write legislation banning the use of the Mozzie without also banning the playing of any music (legally just audio frequencies, or not in the case of John Cage) such as the latest chart toppers blaring out of the mobes of yoofs in the areas in question.

    While the hooded ratboys (and girls) think it's perfectly OK to inflict their choice of easy listening on the rest of us, it's fine by me for the shop owners to force their choice on them.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    95 dB is twice as loud as 85 dB. It is ten times the power, but human hearing has a logarithmic response to power, and a ten-fold power increase in a sound roughly doubles the loudness. Doesn't make these things any less of a disgrace though. Mine's the anorak, naturally.

  30. SleepyJohn

    Underground stations

    I believe this was tried successfully in the Newcastle Underground. Anyone know for sure?

  31. M Gale

    The only people who won't hear these things..

    ..are idiot teens (and adults who used to be idiot teens) who blow their ears out with the iSomething turned up to full volume all day every day. I'm another one who can hear those Mosquito devices quite well enough, thanks a bundle, and I'm in my 30s. It sounds like a really loud CRT on the blink.

    Now, playing Mozart at a more respectable volume? I could see that working. Who the hell would want to sit and get rat-arsed on cheap cider next to that poncey old fashioned shite eh?

  32. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Noise regulations?

    "The box pumps out sound between 16-18kHz at a volume up to 95dB."

    OK, so you can't ban a stereo or whatever because it's loud either, but the owners should be fined for breaking noise regulations every time they use it. Honestly, if "used as directed"... well, my local gas station has gang problems, they've had the police have to show up with a bullhorn anyway to break it up, so really running a noise generator to break them up would not be a big deal. But running it continually? Yeah.

    I also wonder, what's wrong with these shops that run it 24/7? Do they really not want any business? I know for sure that I wouldn't go into a store that has annoying noise blasting out the front, and I must assume some youths and for sure some up to 40 year olds (or more..) spend money every once in a while.

    As for the company wanting them licensed only to police etc.. well, I guess it saves the seller MAYBE from going out of business, but I can't imagine that'd be that big a market.

    As for comparison to a cat repeller.. I think this is a good point actually, I wonder what the decibel level of those is?

  33. PassingStrange

    There's legal and there's legal

    Will someone explain to me how a device designed and marketed with the overt purpose of causing a public nuisance can somehow be deemed acceptable just because not everyone can hear it (or, to be more exact, because the only people who can hear it are young, and presumably therefore perceived as "antisocial")? I'd suggest anyone so inconvenienced should register a complaint under the Noise Abatement act. Were I remotely young enough to stand any chance of actually hearing one of these things in action, I know that I certainly would.

  34. Chris Donald
    Thumb Down


    If I was bothered by one on public property where I wished to be, I would discreetly destroy it. Simple as.

    Mature? Nope. I can hear the frequency and am fedup to the back teeth of annoying music in various shops as it is. Why the hell should I put up with nannying bollox like this?

    It's proof that society as a whole is fragmenting in places-teenagers shouldn't be "seperated" out from the rest of society, no more than old folks should. Ridiculous nonsense.

    If a private business uses one of these-they certainly won't get my custom and if they manage to annoy me-I will make sure they know about it, whatever the legalities.

    I'm not exactly fond of indiscrimate restrictions and enforcement at the best of time. This is one time where I hope a business fails-this one.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Effective solution

    I have determined, by repeated successful experimentation conducted in the wee hours, that these things are easily put out of action at range by a couple of well-placed shots from a silenced .22, fired from inside a slowly moving vehicle.

  36. cannam


    I'm not far off 40, and I can hear these. My children are very troubled by them.

    There's one close to my home in London W2 which has been sounding continuously for nearly two years.

    It's at the bottom of a not particularly dangerous residential block of flats. It hasn't been vandalised, which I hope means that its "target audience" are not all that bothered about it, but I do feel sorry for any small children living nearby. I tried to report it to the Westminster noise complaints line a year or so ago, but with no useful response. Maybe they couldn't hear it. In fact if it wasn't for my children's response, and the fact that the device is visible and looks like the pictures online, I'd probably wonder myself whether I wasn't just imagining it since it doesn't seem to make any difference to other passers-by.

    There seems something quite original and wrong about trying to harm other people with a method that you cannot even detect yourself.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Double standards

    Environmental Health don't give a flying shit whn neighbours blare music out at 2am (no, the police WONT do anything, bacause it's a 'council issue' I know, I've called the lazy bastards many times to get the same we can't do nuffin (except sit on our arse rinking coffee)). So Why is this even an issue? If my neighbours can annoy me at ALL hours, why can't shop owners do the same back? If you don't like it, fuck off around the corner! At least you can. I do however disagree with 24hour use. It's purpose is to keep chavs and twats away from your property at say 9pm onwards.

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