A number of incidents have been reported to Police in relation to the use of high powered green laser pens. No-one has been injured and Hampshire Constabulary is investigating potential offences that have been committed.
On December 30 at around 8.40pm a laser light was shone into the flight path of a plane whilst it was flying overhead Southampton Airport. The light seemed to be originating from the Itchen Bridge area of Southampton.
On January 2 just before 10pm, another plane was targeted when a laser light was shone into the cockpit of the aircraft whilst it was landing at Southampton Airport, the light seemed to originate from the Mayfield Park area.
On January 3 just before 7pm, a laser light was reported to have been shone at a plane heading on southbound departure path over the M27.
On January 4 at 9.30pm a laser light was shone into the cockpit of an inbound flight. The light seemed to originate from the Bitterne Park area.
Officers on the ground were then dispatched on each occasion to search the locations that had been identified as originating from. No one has yet been identified as responsible.
The flights all landed safely on this occasion.
This morning (Thursday, January 5) at around 3.20pm a torch light was shone at the National Police Air Support Helicopter whilst it was patrolling over Southampton. A man in his 70’s was identified and suitable advice was given, the torch was not high powered like a laser light.
Hampshire Constabulary may seek a prosecution, where laser pens have been used to dazzle the pilot of an aircraft, under two pieces of legislation. These are:
• Endangering the Safety of an Aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 (A person shall not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft).
• Article 225 of the Air Navigation Order 2016 created the offence of direct or shine any light at any aircraft in flight in such a way that it will dazzle or distract a pilot.
Chief Inspector Beth Pirie from Southampton wants to highlight the dangers of laser pens:
“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.”
Hampshire Constabulary would like to hear from anyone with information about these incidents by calling 101 and quote Operation Fairway or 441700044424.