THE Co-operative Group has turned to classical music to deter groups of youngsters from congregating outside its convenience stores and causing trouble.
Bach, Beethoven and Mozart are being broadcast on speakers outside a number of stores in Worcester, Bristol and north Wales. Wires leading to the speakers at the Bristol store have already been cut, but were quickly replaced.
If the pilot scheme, which has been running for three weeks, is a success then it may be extended to other areas with similar problems.
Late-opening stores in some locations are a favoured place for gangs of youths to gather. The society hopes broadcasting the classics will make its shops "less cool" as places to hang out ? and so far it is keeping potential troublemakers away.
Julia Rogers, the Co-operative Group's General Manager of Central Services, said: "The music is controlled by staff in the shop, so they can adjust the volume to deter any youths who gather outside. It's early days and it's only a pilot, but our managers are telling us that it appears to be working.
"In many communities a local convenience store like the Co-op is the only place open in the evening, so young people often gather outside. It can be intimidating for shoppers and for our staff, who often face verbal abuse.`