A call from Europe to ban the Mosquito security device, which is used by retailers to help prevent gangs of young people gathering outside stores, has been rejected by the government.

The Council of Europe had recommended that national authorities ban the high-pitched acoustic device, branding it "degrading and discriminatory" to young people as only those under 25 are able to hear it. "Inflicting acoustic pain on young people and treating them as if they were unwanted birds or pests is harmful and highly offensive," it said.

However, Police Minister Nick Herbert said this was an issue for local councils and that the government would not intervene, although he did not rule out reviewing the decision if there was evidence that Mosquitos did cause long-term health damage.

Mosquito manufacturer Compound Security Systems said that a person would have to remain within range for an extended period of time to damage their hearing and that the Council's proposal didn't take into account retailers' rights to pursue their trade.

Robert Gough of Spar in Barry, South Wales, was the first UK retailer to install the Mosquito device and believes it has made himself and his staff safer. "It reduced the number of incidents around my store by 75% after just six months, and to remove it would put all of us under threat again," he told C-Store.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomed the government's decision. He said: "Mosquito devices have provided a number of local shops with a way through distressing anti-social behaviour problems."

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