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  1. ITV Report

Laser pen licensing considered as part of government crackdown on attacks

A handout image of an incident in which a laser was directed at a police helicopter in 2011 Credit: National Police Air Service

The licensing of laser pens is one of a number of measures set to be considered by the government amid growing concerns over the use of the devices in rogue attacks on pilots and train drivers.

The potential crackdown on the sale of the pens, also known as laser pointers, comes at a time when airline pilots have expressed concern about the regulation around who can buy them.

Concerns centre around the fact the devices are commonly available despite being highly dangerous and capable of causing eye damage - in some cases they can even render people temporarily blind if used in an inappropriate manner.

466
laser incidents were recorded by British Transport Police between 1 April 2011 and 31 October 2016
1,258
laser attacks were reported on aircraft in the UK last year by the Civil Aviation Authority

At present no concrete proposals are on the table but the government has said it will consider various ideas to boost safety, including potential licensing schemes for retailers and shoppers.

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

On Saturday Business Minister Margot James, also announced the launch of an eight-week call for evidence to help to establish the "best way to protect the public" from the dangers of the devices misuse.

Ms James 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."

The stepping up of action to find a way to stop laser pen misuse also comes as two British tourists were warned that they could face a fine of up to £540,000 after allegedly pointing laser beams at passenger planes arriving in Malaga, in the south of Spain.