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McDonald’s in Great Yarmouth uses Mosquito device that emits high-pitched buzzing to disperse young people

PUBLISHED: 13:22 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:46 11 April 2017

McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

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McDonald’s in Great Yarmouth is biting back at anti-social behaviour by using a Mosquito device to disperse young people.

A Respect Zone poster in McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan A Respect Zone poster in McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

The chain’s restaurant on Regent Road is using the controversial device - branded “degrading” by civil liberties campaigners - to target people loitering outside.

It gives off a high-pitched buzzing sound designed to be uncomfortable and unpleasant to young people.

Its pitch is so high that it is only heard by youngsters, whose ears are more sensitive to high-pitched noises: the cut-off point is usually around 25 years old.

Police officers outside McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan Police officers outside McDonald's in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

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There has been an ongoing issue with anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the restaurant near the bus station in Yarmouth.

A McDonald’s spokesman said it was one of several businesses in the area which had experienced such incidents.

Nicole Flint, 15, with her mum Lindsay, 45 and twin sister Hayley give their thoughts on the 'anti-teenager' device outside McDonald's in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan Nicole Flint, 15, with her mum Lindsay, 45 and twin sister Hayley give their thoughts on the 'anti-teenager' device outside McDonald's in Great Yarmouth. Photo: George Ryan

She added: “We continue to work in partnership with other local businesses and the police and have implemented a number of measures to tackle these issues.

“The Mosquito device has been in place for many years and is only used in extreme circumstances and as a last resort. We’re pleased to report our actions have shown a positive effect in and around the restaurant and we’re hopeful this will continue.”

A spokesman for the civil liberties organisation Liberty said the technology was first developed to scare away vermin, but was now used by shopkeepers, councils and others to drive off children and teenagers.

They added: “The Mosquito targets any young person in the area, including very young children and babies.

“It affects law-abiding children in the same way as those who are committing offences, which is degrading and discriminatory.

“It assumes young people will behave badly, and doesn’t affect adult law breakers at all.”

Posters have been put up by police in restaurants in the affected area, including McDonald’s, KFC and Spud U Like.

The Respect initiative calls on people not to swear, intimidate others, litter or spit, in the hope that this will make people think twice about their actions.

Great Yarmouth district engagement officer Hannah Gardiner said: “It is important to remember that not every young person in the area is there to commit offences.”

Police operation

Police in Great Yarmouth have recently launched a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, increasing both foot and vehicle patrols in the area.

Great Yarmouth district engagement officer Hannah Gardiner said officers have been working with businesses in the area to find out more about those intent on causing problems.

She added: “This location is near to the main bus station and along with other shops and fast food outlets, it is a natural meeting point for young people, especially when getting off public transport.

“This has resulted in some young people receiving parental letters or being taken home, having dispersal notices issued and bail conditions applied. Alcohol, tobacco and drugs have also been seized.

“We have been dealing robustly with cycling offences and where powers allow, confiscating items causing or likely to cause anti-social behaviour, including bicycles and footballs.”

Opinions

The Mosquito device divided opinion outside of the McDonald’s restaurant.

One teenager, who did not give his name, regularly hangs out near the fast food outlet in Great Yarmouth and said when it goes off it gives him a headache.

Another said it was an annoying sound but it did not bother them too much and they would stay nearby even if the high-pitched buzzer sound was going off.

She added: “If they want to get rid of teenagers, they are going to need something louder.”

Lindsay Flint, 45, from London, who was on holiday in the area but originally from Norwich, said if it keeps the area clear of trouble it is a good idea.

She added: “It is intimidating when you see a bunch of teenagers on the pavement.”

Her daughter Nicole Flint, 15, said: “I kind of feel targeted a little bit because it is against my generation and we don’t get a choice even if we’re behaving.”

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