Government scientists have been impressed by
initial trials and are preparing to ask police to test it as potential weapon in
a growing armoury of equipment aimed at preventing a repeat of the August
The Home Office said it had to be tested
further and guidelines drawn up for its use.
Paul Kerr, of Photonic Security Systems, the
UK-based firm behind it, said the effect was like looking into a low sun on a
bright winter day. He added: ‘It is horrible. It makes you look
‘The system would give police an intimidating
visual deterrent. If you can't look at something you can't attack
‘If police spot someone trying to do something
untoward, painting them with this would certainly make them think twice about
Developed by a former Royal Marine commando,
the £25,000 laser resembles a rifle and can dazzle and incapacitate targets up
to 500m away.
It creates a wall of light up to four metres
wide and comes with an infrared scope to spot looters in poor
Those behind the invention believe it has many
uses, from deterring rioters to aiding high-risk hostage rescues.
The Home Office has been considering new forms
of non-lethal equipment since a wave of looting and arson rocked the
The Metropolitan Police is considering buying
three water canon at a cost of up to £4million but senior officers remain
divided over how effective they would be.
The force is also increasing the number of
officers trained to fire plastic bullets and has warned they could be
It has already deployed an imposing new
portable metal fence in Whitehall during a recent anti-cuts
The trailer-mounted fence, complete with
spy-holes and police signs, was donated by the Government last year and is
similar to those used in European cities.
A Home Office spokesman said the technology
must be tested to ensure it does not cause any permanent ill effects and
guidelines drawn up for its use.
He added: ‘Laser dazzle technology is one we
have recognised as holding some merit.
‘However, prior to any police deployment a
number of things need to be done to assess the technology's