A man has been arrested on suspicion of endangering an aircraft after a laser was repeatedly beamed into the cockpit of the police force helicopter while it was flying over Keighley.
West Yorkshire Police’s helicopter X99 was scrambled to reports of two known criminals acting suspiciously in the car park of the town’s railway station in Bradford Road, and later at a large mill complex nearby, a spokesman said The pilot was able to direct police officers to the spot on the ground where the laser was being used and a 23-year-old Keighley man was arrested.
A police spokesman said he remained in custody last night.
MPs have made fresh calls for an investigation into the availability and “potentially dangerous” use of laser pens following the latest incident shortly after 8.30pm on Thursday.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins questioned whether the Government should consider regulating who can buy lasers – including laser pens – and calling for “tougher penalties” for those who shine them at aircraft.
“Time is certainly of the essence, because I have little doubt that there is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported a “phenomenal growth” in reports of laser incidents in the UK from just three in 2008 to 1,909 last year.
A spokesman said pilots can be temporarily blinded by lasers.
Mr Hopkins has written to Transport Secretary Justine Greening, highlighting his concerns. He said: “I have witnessed young people in possession of laser pens in and around the centre of Keighley since the beginning of the year.
“I am also aware of a significant number of incidents at Leeds-Bradford Airport in recent times where pilots taking off and landing have been targeted by mindless idiots wielding these potentially very dangerous devices.”
Liberal Democrat MP, Greg Mulholland, backed a campaign to make it a criminal offence to shine a laser into an aircraft cockpit and the law was introduced last year.