Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

High power laser pointers seized

Laser pen
Astronomers use high powered laster pens for star pointing

High powered laser pointers have been seized by trading standards officers at a container port in Suffolk.

Sixteen boxes headed for a premises in north London were found at Felixstowe Docks earlier this week.

The seized pointers are illegal in the UK as their power rating of 5 milliWatt (mW) is more than the 1mW allowed.

Imports of laser pens that astronomers use for star pointing, have also been targeted by officials after reports of them being used in a dangerous manner.

Last month an Ipswich teenager received a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for using a green laser pointer to dazzle the pilot of a police helicopter.

Britain's largest pilots union BALPA has warned people misusing these pointers that they are "playing Russian roulette" with the lives of hundreds of passengers.

The organisation has suggested that some laser pens should be classified as weapons.

Suffolk's portfolio holder for public protection, Joanna Spicer said: "These are not the laser pens or pointers you sometimes see in conferences or presentations.

"These items are way more powerful than is legally allowed in this country.

"We have heard in the past week alone what damage can be done to pilots and aircraft when these powerful instruments get into the wrong hands."

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