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Government considers laser pen licence to stop ‘potentially catastrophic’ rogue use

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 12/08/2017 Sebastian Mann

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Ministers may introduce licences for laser pens as part of a crackdown on irresponsible and malicious use.

Airline pilots and train drivers have expressed fears about the regulation of laser pointers, given the commonly-available devices can cause eye damage and in some cases render people temporarily blind.

No concrete proposals are on the table, but the Government has said it will consider a range of ideas to boost safety, such as licensing for retailers and shoppers, and restrictions on advertising.

Licensing schemes already exist in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States.

It comes after two British tourists were threatened with fines for allegedly pointing laser beams at passenger planes arriving in Malaga, in the south of Spain.

Business Minister Margot James, launching an eight-week call for evidence, said: "Public safety is of the utmost importance and we must look carefully to make sure regulations are keeping up with the increased use of these devices.

"Whilst we know most users don't intend any harm, many are not aware of the safety risks and serious health implications of shining laser pointers directly into people's eyes.

"Used irresponsibly or maliciously, these products can and do wreak havoc and harm others, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”

Shining lasers at aircraft can incur a fine of up to £2,500, however measures to make it easier for police to prove the offence were dropped from the Government's legislative programme after the general election in June.

Some 466 laser incidents were recorded between 1 April 2011 and 31 October 2016, according to the British Transport Police, while the Civil Aviation Authority has also said 1,258 laser attacks were reported on aircraft in the UK last year.

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