Tighter checks and searches are to be introduced at ports around the UK in a bid to prevent the import of powerful laser pointers blamed for an upsurge in incidents involving passenger aircraft.
Last year the Civil Aviation Authority reported more than 1,200 incidents in which lasers were aimed at aircraft making their approach to British airports.
It is feared such an incident could lead to a pilot being temporarily blinded while in the cockpit leading to disastrous consequences.
Many of the incidents are thought to involve extremely powerful lasers that cannot be purchased in the UK but are brought in from overseas.
Ministers have now said additional support will be offered to local authority port teams and border officials in order to help identify and confiscate the high powered lasers.
New measures are also being introduced to tackle the sale of unsafe pointers, including more stringent testing.
It is often young people who are responsible for the reckless use of lasers, often not realising the risk to life they pose.
But last year the Government introduced tough new laws warning people they could face up to five years in prison for anyone caught shining a laser at a vehicle.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said: “This is more welcome news from the Government on lasers and shows that they are taking this important issue seriously.
“The Department for Transport recently announced the introduction of new tougher laws for those who shine lasers at aircraft.
“Now the tougher restrictions on importation should hopefully stop high-powered lasers reaching the hands of those with ill-intentions in the first place.
“Shining a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous and has the potential to cause a crash that could be fatal to not only those on board, but people on the ground too.”
Laser beam attacks against the rail network are also a concern, with 578 laser incidents reported by the British Transport Police between April 2011 and last November.
More than 150 incidents of eye injuries involving laser pointers have also been reported since 2013, mainly involving children.
Margot James, Consumer Minister, said: “The Government has listened to concerns from pilots, health professionals and safety experts, which is why we are going further than ever before to crack down on the sale of unsafe devices.
“Public safety is of the utmost importance and we are working to increase the public’s knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these devices and strengthening the penalties for when they are misused.”
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/08/new-checks-introduced-ports-stop-import-dangerous-high-powered/