Sydney’s STATE Rail is set to trial high-pitched Mosquito devices to drive young people away from graffiti hot spots.
The technology emits an irritating high-frequency buzzing noise only people aged 13 to 24 can hear and is used by police forces and councils around the world in areas where teenagers are known to cause trouble.
It is understood State Rail plans to test the devices in known trouble spots for graffiti such as rail depots and subway tunnels, where vandals cause millions of dollars damage each year.
Early discussions propose the devices be used between 10pm and 4am and not be installed at railway stations or near the general public.
“We’re looking at a range of initiatives and technologies to crack down on graffiti vandals, including this idea for graffiti hot spots on railway land that is away from public areas,” Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said.
The government is cautious about releasing details of the plans because of criticism about use of the devices by civil libertarians in Europe when they were first used throughout the UK in 2006.
More than 3500 councils and police forces now use them in Britain.
“No decision has been made on the use of this particular technology,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Mosquito emits a pulsed high-frequency tone which has been proven to disperse groups of young people because the noise annoys them so much they move on.
Manufacturers say it usually takes between five and 15 minutes to take effect and teenagers will move on because of the constant and persistent high-frequency noise which they can only endure for a short period.
Opponents say it is cruel and discriminatory against young people. Last year Wyndham East Kimberley Shire in West Australia came under fire from children’s advocates after it installed the controversial devices.
The local Tuckerbox supermarket also turned to the device to ward off unruly youths but an opposition centre argued it simply pushed the problem on to it.
Kununurra Chamber of Commerce president Brad Williams, who also manages the Kununurra Shopping Centre, said while the Mosquito devices were effective in driving away young people, they were not necessarily the long-term solution.
“Since Tuckerbox installed their own (Mosquito devices), damage and graffiti has gone up at my shopping centre,” Mr Williams said. “If you have a problem of kids loitering and you employ these devices they will loiter somewhere else, probably private property.”
He said he was in two minds whether to install them at his own shopping centre.