Buzz off! Shop siren bid for a quiet life
A SIREN, which emits a high-pitched whine, has been installed outside a shop in Huntingdon – to keep away unruly teenagers. The noise, described as similar to the buzz made by a mosquito, has been installed by The Shoe People, in Chequers Court, after att
A SIREN, which emits a high-pitched whine, has been installed outside a shop in Huntingdon - to keep away unruly teenagers.
The noise, described as similar to the buzz made by a mosquito, has been installed by The Shoe People, in Chequers Court, after attacks on the shop.
The newly-installed box coincides with a dispersal order which comes into effect today (Wednesday).
The device, aimed specifically at teenagers, was vandalised within two weeks of being installed in September, when its wires were cut. It has now been put up again in a box on the wall inside a cage.
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Margaret Cassells, assistant manager of The Shoe People, said: "Teenagers hanging around outside is a constant problem for us - we've had windows broken and they frighten the customers."
A police spokesman said the noise was likely to make those who heard it feel sick and dizzy.
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Marina Lavallin, 18, an assistant at The Shoe People, said: "I can hear it when I am working and it bothers me, but it is a good thing if it keeps the trouble away."
Ms Cassells said: "We only turn the sound on for short periods when we think there will be trouble.
"So far, we have had no complaints."
The new dispersal order gives the police powers to order groups to disperse. If they fail to do so, they can be arrested.
The order applies to Huntingdon Town Centre, which means everything within the ring road.
The police powers were welcomed by The Shoe People and Mike D'Souza, manager of the neighbouring Cash Con-verters store.
He said: "It is good news but it must be effectively policed to make a difference.
"We've had two windows broken, once by a football and once by a skateboarder. Most youngsters are just looking to have fun and that is fine, but there are a certain minority who just do not care."
The Chequers Court area is earmarked for demolition and redevelopment next year as part of the ongoing regeneration of Huntingdon's town centre.
Sergeant Jo Vasey, of Cambridgeshire police, said: "I hope this dispersal order will send out a clear message to those who participate in anti-social acts that we will not tolerate this behaviour.
"Everyone who lives in, works in, or visits the town centre has the right to do so without fear of harassment or intimidation."
The problem of anti-social behaviour was raised at Huntingdon's first neighbourhood planning meeting last month, where residents highlighted the issue as a main area of concern.
Sgt Vasey said: "If people ignore the order, they will be arrested. This order is part of ongoing work to combat anti-social behaviour in the town, following the implementation of three ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) to people locally in the last year.
"We take anti-social behaviour extremely seriously and will not stop in our efforts to allow people to enjoy the town centre and the surrounding areas."
Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Our members are finding their customers are intimidated by groups of young people, some of who can be loud and loose with their language.
"Young people must be able to enjoy the town as well and there needs to be a more suitable place for youths to congregate."
What do you think?
# Ian Thomson, 48, self-employed, of St Anne's Court, Godmanchester:
"I don't feel intimidated by it myself but I know there are people who are. This order is probably a good idea, though, as older people can often be frightened."
# Flora Cutry, 75, retired, of Sandwich Close, Huntingdon:
"Anything is good if it gets the police out of their panda cars. I've never felt intimidated myself but I'd welcome more police presence in the town."
# Stephen Caton, 58, electrician, of Othello Close, Huntingdon:
"Groups of youngsters on the street are definitely intimidating. It's a good idea to give the police more power to do something about it - I'm all for it."
# Lesley Harris, 53, unemployed, of High Street, Huntingdon:
"I've recently moved to the High Street and have definitely noticed groups of youths. I don't find them particularly intimidating but they can be very loud, especially in the evenings.