Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Control of laser pointers (UK)
Control of laser pointers (UK)
Ian N. Ford FRSH
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 13:10:13 -0000
I believe that here in UK the Health and Safety Executive has used powers
originally designed to cover industrial and research lasers to bring all
except very low powered pointers under its licensing regulations. To use
high power lasers the users must be over 18, complete appropriate training,
and ensure that it is secured when not in approved use. Accredited teachers,
lecturers and other trainers (not actually defined) are apparently " deemed
authorised " for professional use of laser pointers. ( So if you pass Boy
Scout Train The Trainer you too can own and use a high power laser pointer.
Possession of an unlicensed laser other than one tested and certified as
exempt from control can result in two years imprisonment and an unlimited
fine. Dealers have been warned that if they sell laser pointers to a
purchaser without due diligence and an injury results they risk prosecution
of the salesperson, the store manager, and the company directors under the
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. (HASAWA) , as well as civil
litigation. As a result stores have refused to sell any laser pointers to
anyone under eighteen.
The police have indicated that anyone found with a laser pointer at a
sporting event will be prosecuted for having an offensive weapon.
Offensive weapon is defined at the discretion of the Court having regard to
all the circumstances.)
Any person has a power of arrest for the Common Law offence of " Breach of
the Queen's Peace ". I don't know if this has been tested in court regarding
laser pointers, but my guess is that depending on the circumstances
magistrates could convict if it could be argued that shining a light in
somebody's face was likely to result in an affray.
Misuse of even low-powered lasers may be an offence if it occurs on premises
covered by HASAWA - including schools and Scout campsites where there is at
least one employed member of staff. I haven't heard of laser pointers being
misused at the school of which I am a governor, but I imagine that the
penalty would be immediate suspension of the student followed by an
appearance before the Disciplinary Committee.
Laser gun sights are prohibited munitions and may only be purchased legally
with a permit from a Secretary of State, and such permits are unlikely to be
granted other than for export or military purposes.