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Dazzle pilots with lasers and face prosecution, warn police
1:02pm Thursday 30th August 2012 in Devon
DAZZLE or distract aircraft pilots with lasers and you’ll be prosecuted under new laws . . . that’s the warning from Devon and Cornwall Police.
Officers have said it’s “only a matter of time” before an aviation disaster is caused by people recklessly shining laser pens at pilots. The warning comes after a Torquay man became the first person to be prosecuted for dazzling a helicopter pilot over a residential area under the new laws.
With the issue becoming a growing problem in Devon and the rest of the country, people in Mid Devon are being warned to keep their laser pointers in their pockets. Air Observer PC Joe Mat-hews said: “This type of laser attack is not limited to police helicopters.
“We’ve had reports ranging from airliners at 30,000ft to aircraft on final approaches into our region’s busiest airports.
“The act itself is incredibly reckless and it’s only through good fortune that we haven’t seen a disaster.” In 2007 there were 29 reported cases of lasers being shone at aircraft in the UK, and that figure rose to over 1,400 in 2010. PC Matthews said: “This type of incident isn’t unique in Devon and Cornwall – nationally and internationally the crime’s rising exponentially.
“This crime crosses all generations, from children who get hold of these handheld lasers and don’t consider the risks to adults who should know better. “Through education and publicity we want to stamp out this dangerous activity, but where education fails and the message doesn’t get through we’ll continue to use all our resources, including the police helicopter, to locate, identify and bring to justice anybody who endangers people in this manner.” The police recommend that parents find out if their children possess a laser.