Govt seeks laser pen penalties

pic Aleksandr Khakimullin

pic Aleksandr Khakimullin

The Department for Transport (DfT) wants new powers to crack down on those caught shining laser pens to distract pilots, train drivers and motorists.

Under DfT proposals, people convicted could face fines running into thousands of pounds, or even a jail sentence.

The DfT move comes after a spate of incidents reported recently involving lasers shone at aircraft from around Southampton.

One was said to have originated from Bitterne Park.

Shining lasers at any transport operator will become an offence under new legislation.

Currently, it is an offence to shine lasers at pilots and offenders could face fines of up to £2,500. But the DfT says police don’t have powers to effectively tackle and investigate the inappropriate use of laser devices against aircraft, trains, buses and other forms of transport. One of the current laws means that police have to prove a person endangered the aircraft when committing the offence of shining a laser, whereas the new law will mean that police will only have to prove the offence of shining the laser.

Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling said: “There are around 1,500 laser attacks on aircraft every year in the UK and we know there have been similar attacks on trains and buses. What I am announcing today (February 5, 2017) are plans to give the police effective powers to investigate and bring those who misuse lasers to justice.”

‘Growing threat’

Steve Landells, Flight Safety Specialist at the British Airline Pilots Association said his organisation welcomed moves to tighten the law.

“Any move to give the police and authorities more powers to tackle this real and growing threat to flight safety is a good thing, and we are pleased that the government has included action on lasers in this bill.”

The powers and penalties for the offence will be outlined in upcoming legislation.