U.K. Police To Test Blinding Laser For Crowd Control

It may look like one, but this crude graphic (courtesy of the venerable Beeb) does not depict a scoped bullpup bipod-mounted can of ultra-pasteurized whipped cream.  It’s actually a very crude CGI illustration of an experimental riot-control weapon that uses a laser to temporarily blind its targets.  By ‘temporarily’, we hope they don’t mean “until science develops an artificial replacement retina.”

Designed by a former Royal Marines Commando, it was originally intended for use by ship crews to deter pirate attacks off the east coast of Africa.  In yet another worrisome display of the tools and tactics of war being adopted by civil law enforcement, the £25,000 weapon is to be tested by an ‘unnamed’ UK police force for use as a crowd-control device.  By burning people’s eyes out.  At least temporarily. In theory.

The effectiveness of simple countermeasures such as dark sunglasses (or hand-held mirrors) has not been disclosed, and how this pricey retina-roaster will discriminate between violent rioters who pose an imminent threat to life and limb, stalwart constables plying their truncheons on the side of law and order, and hapless bystanders caught up in the scrum, has yet to be determined.  Blimey.

Click for the full BBC story.



  1. avatar Ben Eli says:

    I just don’t understand so many things right now.
    Why is there a magazine?
    Why is there a scope on something that looks like it shoots a 50mm lazer?
    Is it a range weapon?
    It looks like it has a nice big recoil pad, so does light now produce recoil?
    Does it shoot in busts of light, or one continuos beam?
    Will it fix my squirrel problem?

    1. avatar HSR47 says:

      Seeing as light, or to be more precise, photons, behave as both a wave and a particle, it stands to reason that newtonian physics applies to them. The reason it doesnt generally seem that your average laser pointer or flashlight has recoil is because individual photons have so little mass, and the device emits few enough of them that the effect is imperceptible.

      1. avatar Ben Eli says:

        Do you think this device is capable of emitting enough photons to create recoil?

      2. avatar gsteele531 says:

        Well, that’s a word salad that’s going to take a lot of dressing to swallow . . .

    2. avatar gsteele531 says:

      I suspect that what looks like a magazine is a battery pack or some such. The recoil pad is probably just an artifact of the cartoonish illustration. The range is up to 500 meters, so it must be a damned powerful laser to have an effect in daylight over that distance. Blinded from 5 football fields away? It appears to send out a wall of light three meters across – pretty weird, since lasers are focused, collimated light designed NOT to disperse. I suspect it will never see the light (snicker) of day once the human rights weenies get their talons into it – can you imagine the lawsuit volume the first time it’s used? It may find a market replacing snow blowers, however. Google PHaSR for more.

      And it’s not a solution to your squirrel problem – even a blind squirrel trips over an acorn now and then . . .

  2. avatar pair-o-dee says:

    “…and how this pricey retina-roaster will discriminate between violent rioters who pose an imminent threat to life and limb, stalwart constables plying their truncheons on the side of law and order, and hapless bystanders caught up in the scrum, has yet to be determined…”

    That part was humor, right? Fire in the hole!

  3. avatar NR says:

    This looks like the dumbest thing ever. For riot control? For serious? The crowd won’t disperse if they can’t see. Not to mention the liability when someone steps in front of a bus.

    1. avatar Ben Eli says:

      I imagine the rioter’s motivation to disperse is similar to seeing to the effect of seeing an old man wearing a speedo.

      Somethings just can’t be unseen.

      1. avatar NR says:

        Oh, they’ll have plenty of *motivation* to disperse. But motivation might not be enough if you *can’t see where you’re —–ing going*.

        That is all.

  4. avatar Jeff says:

    This sounds awfully like this entire class of weapons that were banned under international law for use on the battlefield: http://www.hrw.org/news/1998/07/28/hrw-questions-us-laser-programs-blinding-laser-weapon-ban-becomes-international-law

    I can’t wait to see how many peaceful protestors who are expressing legitimate grievances get their eyes fried with this….

  5. avatar O.N. says:

    The UK could develop a sane immigration policy to combat rioting. But nah, light guns are the answer. Sure…

  6. avatar Mr. Lion says:

    While not the stupidest thing I’ve seen out of the UK, it’s close.

    Crowd/Riot control generally requires area denial tools. High powered sonic emitters work very, very well for this, and generally don’t cause permanent damage.

    Using a man-portable highly directional laser for this task is just plain idiocy, which is beside the fact that nothing man-portable would ever be powerful enough to cause anything other than slight irritation at any kind of range, and only were someone stupid enough to stare at the bloody thing for a while.

    Were they to develop something vehicle powered that actually could cause permanent sight loss, I do believe more than a few people would start returning fire. With bullets.

  7. avatar gsteele531 says:

    You wonder how long it will be before the rioters/demonstrators start showing up with mirrors, making the whole idea worthless.

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