Calls for ban on the laser pen yobs

Macclesfield Express - - BUSINESS SME BUSINESS TIPS - STU­ART GREER

YOBS are risk­ing lives as new fig­ures show hun­dreds of peo­ple are com­mit­ting of­fences us­ing laser pens.

Po­lice data has re­vealed there were 284 in­ci­dents in the re­gion over the last two years - that’s one laser pen at­tack ev­ery two days in Cheshire.

Th­ese in­clude in­ci­dents where the high-pow­ered beams were aimed at air­craft, road ve­hi­cles, and di­rectly at peo­ple’s faces - risk­ing caus­ing col­li­sions or caus­ing per­ma­nent eye dam­age.

In March last year David Bl­izy­cki, 26, and Ar­tur Chat, 23, from Mac­cles­field, were jailed af­ter they ad­mit­ting shin­ing a laser pen at a po­lice he­li­copter.

The wor­ry­ing statis­tics have prompted calls for the pens to be of­fi­cially classed as of­fen­sive weapons.

Pub­lic Health Eng­land has called for a re­stric­tion on laser pens be­ing sold the pub­lic which are any stronger than one mil­li­watt.

How­ever, de­vices, which can cost be­tween £20 and £200 and are legally avail­able in the UK, are up to 100 times more pow­er­ful than those rec­om­mended by the govern­ment health body.

Stephen Lan­dells, a flight safety ex­pert at the Bri­tish Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion (BALPA), called for a change in the law and warned of ter­ri­ble con­se­quences for sin­glepi­lot air­craft and he­li­copters as the power of lasers avail­able to the pub­lic con­tin­ues to in­crease.

He said: “The law says you can’t carry a knife with­out good rea­son - a car­pet fit­ter go­ing into a build­ing in the af­ter­noon has a rea­son to carry a knife. But some­one walk- ing down the street at 11pm out­side a pub doesn’t.

“We want lasers to come un­der that same leg­is­la­tion so the po­lice can say we have rea­son­able sus­pi­cion and they can be ar­rested.”

Greater Manch­ester Po­lice, which cov­ers Manch­ester Air­port, re­sponded to 1,039 laser pen calls dur­ing the same pe­riod 2014 and 2015. Of that fig­ure, 156 in­ci­dents di­rectly in­volved air­craft.

Na­tion­ally, there have been al­most 6,500 po­lice re­ports in­volv­ing laser pens since 2014, in­clud­ing more than 400 cases of air­craft be­ing tar­geted as well as dozens of emer­gency ser­vice he­li­copters.

Of the forces to re­spond to the re­quest for in­for­ma­tion, Greater Manch­ester recorded the most in­ci­dents, fol­lowed by Northum­bria Po­lice and Sus­sex Po­lice. Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice said they had dealt with 151 in­ci­dents na­tion­ally.

Any­one caught shin­ing a laser pen at a plane or he­li­copter could face a charge of en­dan­ger­ing an air­craft.

‘We want lasers to come un­der leg­is­la­tion... so they can be ar­rested’

●● The mo­ment a laser pen on the ground hit the cam­era on the po­lice he­li­copter

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