One evening last week, I was travelling home from work via Hamilton Central Train Station. On approach to the station, I couldn’t help but notice a highly irritating noise coming from the platform area. Having been aware of recent issues at the station, it crossed my mind what this noise may be… and my assumption turned out, unfortunately, to be right.
As I waited on my train, due in 15 minutes by this point, the noise became increasingly more frustrating as it was high-pitched and made for extremely uncomfortable listening. Ten minutes later, I was seriously considering leaving the station – and missing my train – as the noise had become unbearable to sit through, and there was no area of the platform where it could be avoided.
Anti-loitering devices, or ‘mosquito’ devices as they are also known, have existed for a number of years and act as a deterrent by playing a screeching sound at a frequency that can only be heard by those under a certain age (usually under 25). Although intended in this instance to prevent anti-social behaviour, these devices are indiscriminate and have negative eﬀects on all those who can hear it.
As a regular ScotRail customer and a frequent visitor to Hamilton Central Station, I was incredibly disappointed that I had been subjected to this horrendous treatment. This device makes young people feel as if their presence is regarded as nothing more than a nuisance, when in actual fact many use this station to access school, work or university.
Since 2010, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) has held the position that the use of these devices in Scotland should be banned as they violate the rights of young people as set out under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). As we head into SYP’s new national campaign, entirely focused on young people’s rights, it is incredibly important that we continue to ﬁght for ‘mosquito’ devices to be eradicated in this country.
Over the past week this issue has made national news, following conﬁrmation from ScotRail that they use the devices in a number of their stations across Scotland. A number of Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) have written to decision-makers in their local areas to establish if these devices are in use, and I would encourage all others to do the same.
We must call on ScotRail to stop using such extreme solutions that speciﬁcally target all young people, and instead work with young people and organisations such as SYP to seek alternative solutions to anti-social behaviour. It’s also vital that the Scottish Government recognise the negative eﬀects of ‘mosquito’ devices and look to ban their use in Scotland.