LASER PEN & policehelicopterWhen I am in a motorised vehicle which doesn`t rely on wheels I rather prefer it has at least two engines with four offering even more re-assurance that there is some spare power in an emergency. For that reason I have never flown in a helicopter. These vehicles also have the disadvantage of usually having only one pilot. Therefore when there is an attempt to interfere with his ability to do his job it is a matter of concern. The vulnerability of helicopters with their low flying altitude was recognised by Article 222 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 which states: A person must not in the United Kingdom direct or shine any light at any aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot of the aircraft. It came into effect on 1st January 2010. I have been unable to source guideline sentencing for offenders convicted under this Article.

At Bristol Crown Court last week an offender who shone a laser into a police helicopter was punished with a curfew and a 12 month community order. As a member of the public my opinion is that this sentence does not properly reflect the seriousness of this offence and the high degree of culpability of the offender. The possible consequence of such behaviour is as horrendous as a dangerous driving which has been determined at Crown Court.