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Laser pen pilot attackers could face jail under tougher new law

Aircrafts have increasingly been targeted with laser pens. Credit: ITV News/Police handout

People shining laser pens at pilots, train and bus drivers could face jail or hefty fines under government plans for a tougher new law.

It is currently an offence to shine lasers at pilots punishable with fines of up to £2,500 under the Air Navigation Order.

But police do not have the powers to tackle laser attacks against aircraft, trains, buses and other types of transport.

Under the new proposals, police will only have to prove the offence of shining the laser instead of having to prove that an aircraft had been endangered.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences.

Lasers aimed at planes can dazzle and distract pilots. Credit: NPAS Redhill
1,500
laser strikes have approximately been carried out each year since 2011

"We want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm," Mr Grayling added.

"This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped."

Details of the new powers and punishments are to be set out in upcoming legislation, according to the Department for Transport

British Airline Pilots Association flight safety specialist Steve Landells said: "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."