PILOTS flying into one of the country’s busiest airports are being dazzled by people shining lasers at their cockpits.

Police are calling for witnesses to come forward following a spate of incidents in recent days.

Between July 17 and 25 pilots flying into Gatwick have reported lasers being directed towards them from the Shoreham area.

Police have warned shining lasers is a criminal offence, adding that they pose a threat to the lives of people on board planes and on the ground.A Gatwick spokeswoman told The Argus they often have a number of cases of people shining lasers at pilots in the July – but added they were unsure as to why.

She explained that when a pilot is targeted, they contact air traffic control, where staff then call the police.

If they can pinpoint where the laser is coming from, officers will carry out a search. Sergeant Steven Turner, from Sussex Police’s Adur and Worthing Neighbourhood Policing Team said, said all recent reports had been traced to the Shoreham area.

He said: “Directing laser devices towards aircraft in flight to dazzle or distract the pilot is a criminal offence as it represents a considerable threat to the lives of the people on board and on the ground. These are not toys and we would appeal to parents to be aware of the dangers lasers pose and discourage their children from using them.”

Shoreham Airport, is not understood to have been targeted recently but has been plagued by laser problems in the past.

A senior spokesman for the airport did not want to speak at length, because any publicity usually leads to further offending. He said during the winter the airport sw more cases of laser pens being directed at planes with the runway shutting in the summer at 8pm – before it gets dark.

He said: “Thankfully incidents are very rare but any cases should be reported immediately to the police and airport staff.”

Officers are calling for witnesses or anyone who knows anything about the recent incidents to get in touch.

Call 101 or email 101@sussex. pnn.police.uk - or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0845 555 111.