C-store owners have reacted angrily to proposals to end use of the Mosquito, a high-pitched device deployed to disperse gangs of youths who hang around outside shops.

The Children’s Commissioner for England and human rights group Liberty have called for the gadget – which can only be heard by those under 25 – to be abandoned, following the example of Scotland where work on a ban began last year.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman defended the use of the Mosquito when needed. He said: “Unfortunately, in many locations, retailers are victims of antisocial gangs of youths that congregate around their premises.

“These youths deter customers, intimidate staff and can commit vandalism and violence. Removing the ability to use tools like Mosquitoes will make life harder for retailers that face real problems.”

Children’s Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green said: “These devices are indiscriminate. The use of measures such as these are simply demonising children and young people, creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old.”