Laser beams pointed at planes
Hampshire Police are warning of the dangers of pointing high-powered laser pens at aircraft following five incidents in the past week.
Officers say that planes landing at Southampton airport are being put at risk by the dangerous use of the pens and powerful torches.
The first of the spate of incidents happened on December 30 when a laser light was shone into the flightpath of a plane flying over Southampton Airport.
Then on January 2, the cockpit of an aircraft landing at the international airport was also targeted with similar incidents happening on the two subsequent days.
And on Thursday, a torch light was shone at the National Police Air Support helicopter as it was patrolling over Southampton.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: “A man in his 70s was identified and suitable advice was given. The torch was not high-powered like a laser light.”
He added that all of the flights landed safely and no-one had been injured.
Chief Inspector Beth Pirie said: “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 and are working together with Southampton Airport, the airlines and our colleagues from the National Police Air Service, and will take appropriate action as our enquiries progress.
“Incidents involving lasers being pointed at vehicles, such as planes, boats or cars and people, are increasing nationally.
“A large number of these incidents involve young people whose parents are not aware their child owns a laser or believe it is a suitable toy.
“It is not illegal to possess a laser pen but we are keen to stress to both adults and children that these items are dangerous especially when shone directly at an aircraft.
“Lasers are not toys they could lead to serious visual impairment for life if used in an inappropriate way.”