Hampshire Police: Laser Pens Endangering Aircraft

26 September 2014, 11:15

Hampshire Police say they've seen a rise in reports of high-powered laser pens being aimed at aircraft.

During 2014 an increasing number of incidents have been reported. No-one has been injured and Hampshire Constabulary is investigating potential offences that have been committed.
 
In addition 107 lasers of differing, but dangerous, power levels were recovered at an address in Eastleigh. One was 650 times more powerful than expected. Many of these lasers would cause serious visual impairment if used irresponsibly.
 
Hampshire Constabulary may seek a prosecution, where laser pens have been used in this way, under two pieces of legislation. These are:
 
- Endangering the Safety of an Aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 (A person shall not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft).
- Article 222 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 created the offence of using a light in such a way that it will dazzle or distract a pilot.
 
In a recent case, at just after 8.30pm on Tuesday, September 9, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter was on its final approach to Southampton Airport for fuel when it was targeted by a powerful green laser originating from an area adjacent to the Itchen Bridge. Four commercial passenger aircraft on the same approach path also reported a laser being used at the same location. These flights all landed safely on this occasion.
 
After refuelling, the helicopter used the onboard camera and mapping systems to identify the location from where the laser had been used. Officers on the ground were then dispatched, a powerful green laser was recovered and one man was arrested.
 
Superintendent James Fulton is in charge of policing in Southampton and is highlighting the dangers of laser pens:
 
“This activity is highly dangerous and irresponsible during any phase of flight, however during critical times such as landings at night, it is especially dangerous. We are committed to investigating all reports of this type alongside our colleagues from the National Police Air Service, and will take appropriate action as part of our enquiries.
 
“Incidents involving lasers being pointed at vehicles, such as planes or cars and people, are increasing nationally. A large number of these incidents involve children, whose parents believe the lasers are a suitable toy. We are keen to stress to both adults and children that these items are dangerous and can lead to a significant fire risk. Lasers are not toys and could also lead to serious visual impairment for life if used in an inappropriate way”.
 
A 26-year-old man from Totton was arrested on suspicion of offences under the Air Navigation Order in relation to the incident on September 9, and has been bailed until October 23, pending further enquiries.
 
Other recent reports received by police include:

On Friday, July 18, a commercial flight reported a laser being used from a block of flats in the Eastleigh area at around 9.15pm. A 28-year-old man from Eastleigh was arrested and bailed until November 7, pending further enquiries.

On Monday, August 4, the National Police Air Service helicopter reported a laser being used in the Ringwood area. A 20-year-old man from Ringwood was arrested in connection with the incident and bailed until October 6, pending further enquiries.

On Friday, August 8, at just after midnight, an aircraft reported a laser being used at the Boomtown Festival, although it did not appear to be part of the entertainment onsite.

On Friday, August 8, at around 9.25pm a commercial flight reported a laser being used in Eastleigh. A 24-year-old man from Eastleigh was arrested and bailed until November 7, pending further enquiries.

On Sunday, September 7, two commercial flights reported a laser being used in the Bitterne and Weston areas of Southampton

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