Police warning after aircraft targeted with lasers over West Berkshire

Thames Valley Police has issued a warning following reports of a high powered laser shone at aircraft over the past four months.

Lives are being put at risk in the skies over West Berkshire following a number of incidents in which a laser has been shone at civilian and military aircraft.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to all of the incidents and people in the community are being encouraged to ring police immediately if they become aware of a sighting of a laser in the sky, to allow officers to respond while the incident is ongoing.

The reports of aircraft being hit by a laser include:

  • Two military Apache helicopters were targeted flying near Enborne at 19:30 GMT on 24 October 2018
  • A pilot reported a green laser being shone about five miles west of Newbury at 18:45 on 30 November 2018
  • A military Apache helicopter was targeted flying over Marsh Benham at 17:45 on 12 December 2018
  • A plane had a laser shone at it while in the air over Welford at 17:35 on 12 December 2018
  • A laser was shone at an aircraft flying over Newbury at 17:45 on 8 January
  • A civilian helicopter was targeted flying above Newbury Racecourse at 17:50 on 9 January

PC Darryl MacAndrew said: “These are very serious incidents which carry a high level of risk that could ultimately prove fatal. Pilots can become dazzled by lasers which can put the aircraft at risk.

Offenders will be dealt with robustly – offences under the Aviation Act 1982 – endangering aircraft – could lead to a life sentence. Those who are prosecuted for offences under the Laser Misuse Act 2018 can also be subject to five years’ imprisonment.”

Lasers with a range of 12km are available online legally in the UK

Laser pointers such as the one above that can shine up to 12km distance are legal to sell, buy and own in the UK. However, it is an offence to shine them at people, cars and aircraft and to use them in an anti-social manner according to police sources.

Police are appealing to anyone with any information about the incidents please call the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101 or call 999 if a crime is in progress.

Stephen West

Stephen is a Broadcast Journalist with previous experience working on print and online publications and on local TV. He is interested in politics and economics.

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