Municipalities are struggling with the use of mosquitoes: ‘Young people are not mosquitoes that you chase away’ Yesterday, 17:58 in Binnenland The number of places where mosquitoes hang to prevent nuisance from young people is growing. The boxes emit a high-pitched sound that only young people can hear.

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NOS News

Leiderdorp, Barendrecht, Rotterdam. A selection of the municipalities that have used mosquitoes in the past year to prevent nuisance from young people.

Mosquitos are boxes that can emit a high-pitched buzz that can almost only be heard by young people. Its use is not without controversy. The Council of Europe previously called for a ban, because it “treats young people as if they were unwanted birds or diseases”. Frequently heard criticism is that it does not solve nuisance, but only moves it.

However, not all municipalities seem reluctant to use the boxes. It is not known how many municipalities use the boxes, but the number of places where mosquitoes hang out is growing, says Donald van der Laan, the supplier of the boxes. He also supplies the cabinets to schools, shops and housing corporations. “We saw a fairly strong increase at the beginning of the corona pandemic, when there were fewer places for young people to find fun and they went to places where fairly innocent behavior was seen as a nuisance.”

But even after corona there was still a demand for mosquitoes. “We expected it to decrease after the corona pandemic, but the opposite turned out to be true. We now see that growth continues.”

NOS Stories took to the streets to see how young people experience the use of mosquitoes.

'Young people HUNTING AWAY like DOGS' |  The truth about hangouts

‘Young people HUNTING AWAY like DOGS’ | The truth about hangouts

The number of reports to the police about nuisance was higher last year than in the years before corona, according to police figures. However, this does not mean that there is actually more nuisance, says criminologist Jeroen van den Broek. He conducts research into street culture and sees that contact between young people and local residents is declining. “They no longer speak to each other, no longer know each other. And then everything you hear, everything you experience immediately becomes a nuisance. Sometimes there are also young people who are just young together, that is not a nuisance.”

One of the municipalities that opts for the mosquito in the fight against nuisance is Rotterdam. The municipality has deployed seventeen mosquitoes. According to a spokesman, the mosquitoes are only placed in the event of actual nuisance. “Mosquitos can be deployed if local residents cannot sleep because of the noise of young people on the street in the late hours and at night, and if conversations with the young people, the use of youth work and more surveillance do not help.”

In the event of a nuisance, the mosquito will only remain on temporarily. “The mosquito is activated for 15 minutes by a resident if they experience a nuisance. The mosquito does not turn on in the presence of young people, but only when a nuisance is experienced. If the young people do not cause a nuisance, they can remain standing without the mosquito turning on .”

We do not see young people as ‘mosquitoes’ that you chase away.

Mark Lauriks, alderman in Arnhem

However, the boxes are not installed in all major municipalities. In Amsterdam they had the cabinets removed. In Arnhem, the municipality has never considered using mosquitoes. Alderman Welfare Mark Lauriks: “Nuisance also has an underlying reason. We do not see young people as ‘mosquitoes’ that you chase away.”

That is why in Arnhem they opt for other ways of combating nuisance from young people, Lauriks explains. “For example, by focusing on the personal development of young people and addressing young people on the street personally.”

Criminologist Van den Broek understands that municipalities sometimes opt for mosquitoes, but he also sees the downside of using them. “You immediately determine that no young people are allowed to hang out at a certain location. While that also applies to young people who previously caused no nuisance.”

The Association of Dutch Municipalities advises municipalities to only use the device if other ways of combating nuisance have failed. And to only turn on the cabinets at times when there is a nuisance, such as at night. Most municipalities do the same. They only deploy the mosquitos after 10 p.m. and they are not switched on by default, only if local residents request it.

  • Rotterdam hangs extra mosquitoes against noisy loiterers
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