Laser attacks on planes flying over London are on the rise, figures newly released by the Metropolitan Police reveal.

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In 2010, there were 145 registered laser-attack incidents over London, say the stats, while in 2012, the Met recorded 252.

There London figures mirror the rise in laser attacks internationally. In Europe as a whole, attacks rose in number from 1,048 in 2009 to 4,266 in 2010, and from 2,836 in 2010 to 3,592 in 2011 in the US, although both regions tightened up reporting procedures over the period.

Sent from pen-sized weapons, the laser beams used by attackers can cause temporary blindness with potentially catastrophic results for air traffic.

Luckily, none of the attacks have so far resulted in loss of life.

“There’s a flashing effect,” said a spokesperson for pilot’s union Balpa.

“If the aircraft is in a critical phase of flying, that’s hugely distracting for [pilots].”

The Met now has a squad dedicated to eradicating laser-attacks, complete with the use of three helicopters, and its officers have issued a warning.

“[Attacking pilots with lasers] is incredibly dangerous and stupid,” the head of the Met’s air support squad told the BBC.

“We will find you and have you arrested and you may well find you go to prison.”