British minister calls for crackdown on laser pen toys

London, March 21 : Government Business Minister Anna Soubry called for action on Sunday to stop dangerous and illegal laser pens being sold as toys to children.

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She has written to trading standards departments across the country urging a nationwide crackdown, backed by police action, Xinhua reported.

Her call comes just weeks after the body that represents airline pilots in Britain demanded that handheld laser pointers be classed as offensive weapons.

That call came after a Virgin Atlantic flight to the US was forced to return to Heathrow when its co-pilot was dazzled by a laser during takeoff. The plane was carrying 252 passengers and crew and is thought to have been the first commercial aircraft to have to return because of a laser beam shone at the cockpit from the ground.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said aircraft were being “attacked” by laser devices “at an alarming rate and with lasers with ever-increasing strength”. It said the problem was becoming “more and more urgent”.

British law states that laser pens with a strength of more than one megawatt are illegal to sell to the general public because of the damage they can cause if shone in a person’s eye.

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