Shoulder-mounted lasers, long range Tasers among new U.K. riot gear

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, December 12, 2011 12:45 EDT
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A green laser entertains riders at the Italian amusement park Gardaland. Photo: Flickr user orsorama.
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The British have long been at the forefront of police state technology, with more cameras in London than any other city in the world.

The city has even been called the “spy capital of the world,” thanks to its all-encompassing surveillance systems, which enable government minders to speak directly to people who are acting up in public. And since the city was gripped by rioting earlier this year after police killed a man they claimed was a drug dealer, authorities have begun testing even more new technology that will only enhance their grip on the populace.

According to British paper The Telegraph, police are currently testing a shoulder-mounted laser cannon that can project a virtual wall of blinding light from nearly 500 meters away.

Originally developed to help cargo ships repel pirate attacks, the device temporarily blinds incoming attackers with a band of light that’s 10 meters wide.

While the United Nations has banned laser weapons that cause permanent blindness, lasers that only cause temporary vision impairment, or blindness by accident, are still acceptable.

Police would not be deploying the weapon on the British public unless it could be confirmed that it does not cause permanent blindness, the paper said.

Police were also testing a long-range electronic device, similar to a Taser, that can incapacitate targets from a distance. Another less-lethal weapon category, “long-range chemical irritant projectiles,” was also being examined, The Telegraph noted.

Photo: Flickr user orsorama.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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