Police test for riot laser that can temporarily blind

Artist impression of the SMU 100
The laser can fire a three-metre square 'wall' of light that temporarily blinds

A new laser designed to temporarily blind people is going to be trialled by police.

Called the SMU 100 it costs £25,000 and sends out a three-metre "wall of light" that leaves anyone caught in it briefly unable to see.

Designed by a former Royal Marine Commando, it was originally developed for use against pirates in Somalia.

Its makers claim an unnamed police force is set to trial the device which could be used against rioters.

Since the riots in several English towns and cities over the summer there has been extensive examination of the tools and tactics police use for large-scale crowd trouble.

While tasers and CS gas work well over short distances the laser is said to be effective at up to 500 metres (1,640ft).

Paul Kerr is managing director of Clyde-based Photonic Security Systems, which came up with the design.

He said: "The system would give police an intimidating visual deterrent. If you can't look at something you can't attack it."

Being targeted by the beam has been compared to staring into the sun before being forced to turn away.

Although the blinding effect is only temporary part of the trial will see scientists carry out further research on any potential side-effects.

Only if it gets the all clear will it then be passed on to the Home Secretary to be signed off for use.

It's not the first time a laser has been used to temporarily blind people.

Similar devices have already been used by British and American troops in Afghanistan to help protect convoys from attack.

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