A REVOLUTIONARY device which emits a high-pitched sound only audible to under-25s is being tried out at a Hyndburn school in the ongoing battle against anti-social behaviour.
The Mosquito gives out a harmless but intensely irritating buzzing which it is hoped will make gangs of youths disperse.
It has been installed at All Saints Primary School in Clayton-le-Moors where troublemakers have been causing a nuisance in the grounds during the evening and at weekends. It is the first time it has been used in Hyndburn.
The device is part of a package of solutions being put in place by Lancashire Police to combat problems at the Church Street school and it may be rolled out across the borough if it proves successful.
Criminal damage at the school over the summer has included vandalism to the seating area and graffiti on the wooden seats, tables and school walls. Police have also received reports that youths have been congregating and drinking alcohol.
Police patrols in the area have been stepped up and an investigation is underway to identify those responsible.
The device is one of three purchased for Hyndburn and has been used successfully in other parts of the country to deter the presence of unruly youths.
Sergeant Bob Eaton of Accrington Police said: "All Saints has suffered enough. We will give the Mosquito a try but it is only one part of a package of solutions to this problem.
"The youths concerned need a hard line and that is what they are going to get. The Community Beat Manager has taken statements and arrests will follow shortly."
Police community support officer Tracey Bridges said that youth referral forms will be issued to anyone caught on school premises and added: "It's a major concern to the community as well as the school."
Headteacher Peter Jump said he was at the end of his tether with the problems and welcomed the installation of the device.
He added: "We have been plagued with youths defacing and damaging the quiet area that has been built for our use.
"It's a shame when we can't put plants out and make the playground a lovely environment for pupils because the youths damage it at night.
"I'm hoping that the police initiative will result in an end to this and that the parents of these youths get a grip on their responsibilities."
- PUPIL Kaitlin Kitchener, eight, put the device to the test and said: "It was horrible. I didn't like it. It sounded spooky. It was very high-pitched and squeaky."
Rhyddings High School pupil Samantha Edmondson, 15, on work experience with the Observer, said: "I was very surprised at the sound as it wasn't a noise I instantly recognised but it was a really high-pitched beep that seemed to last for ages.
"It wasn't that bad to listen to at first but after a while it became very annoying, and made me want to put my fingers in my ears. I think it will be very useful in getting rid of anti-social behaviour as I wouldn't like to sit somewhere where I could hear that noise."
But our reporter Emma Scott, 29, said: "It's proved I'm going over the hill. I was praying I would be able to hear something but there was just a slight tinny sensation like when you have a cold and need to 'pop' your ears.''