RAIL bosses have installed a controversial sonic device which emits an unbearable high pitched noise at a ‘war zone’ train station in a bid to target teenage gangs.
The anti-loitering device has been placed at Hamilton Central railway station in Lanarkshire after a wave of assaults, fires and drug taking by youths who gather there.
There are many ways to solve anti-social behaviour issues, especially in a manner that doesn’t target one section of society, because the anti-social behaviour at Hamilton Central is not all caused by young peopleAmy Lee Fraioli
Known as a ‘Mosquito’, it emits a high-frequency sound which is only audible to under-25s in a bid to stop them congregating.
The station has been dubbed the worst in Scotland and ScotRail took action after complaints by staff and the RMT union.
However the move has been criticised by campaigners who have called for the devices to be banned because they say they discriminate against young people.
Bruce Adamson, the new Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, condemned the use of the device by ScotRail
He said: “The use of such devices is a breach of children’s rights to go about their lives free from discrimination in a healthy and safe way when they use public transport, visit shops or meet their friends.
“These devices are a disproportionate and degrading approach that acts without discrimination, causing discomfort to any children and young people who encounter them.
“The UN and Council of Europe have called on Governments to ban mosquito devices. Companies like ScotRail must also respect children’s rights.
“The Scottish Government and public authorities are under a duty to protect children from harm, they must act to ban these devices.”
Amy Lee Fraioli, 19, the chairwoman of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said she heard the device while she was travelling home on Saturday night.
She said it emitted a ‘horrific’ high pitched screeching which was ‘the most uncomfortable noise to sit through’.
She said: “People are very concerned, as they should be.
“There are many ways to solve anti-social behaviour issues, especially in a manner that doesn’t target one section of society, because the anti-social behaviour at Hamilton Central is not all caused by young people.
“Even in the situation that it was, it would be unfair to punish every young person that visits the station.”
Louise Macdonald, the chief executive of youth charity Young Scot, added: “I’m pretty sure most adults don’t even realise these things are used in public places. ScotRail please think again.”
The device does not cause any permanent damage to a person’s hearing. However, the United Nations and other international human rights bodies have been raising concern about the issue for a number of years.
In 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called on Scotland and other countries to ban the devices, saying it violates legislation prohibiting torture.
Last month, workers at the station held a demonstration calling for bosses at ScotRail to take action after a surge in violence against staff and passengers.
In recent weeks, an elderly woman was attacked by a youth in a drug-related assault, a passenger was battered on a stairwell and another hit with a bottle. Staff were verbally abused, fires were lit and people threatened.
ScotRail said it had used the anti-loitering systems in the past and that the device was only activated when anti-social behaviour was taking place.
A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “The safety of our staff and customers is always our number one priority.
“As part of this multi-agency approach we have introduced a suite of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and since these have been put in place there has been a significant reduction in incidents in and around the station.”