THE Government is today set to clampdown on laser pointers, meaning anyone caught firing one at a vehicle can be jailed for five years.

Sussex is one of the worst affected areas for laser attacks on aircraft - because Gatwick is frequently targeted.

The latest official figures show there were 55 incidents involving lasers at Gatwick in 2015.

The new rules will give councils extra powers to tests laser pens and ban them from sale.

Since 2013, 150 people - mainly children- have suffered serious eye injuries.

Today’s measures expand the list of vehicles it is an offence to target with lasers after it emerged laser beam attacks against the rail network were also a concern. British Transport Police records show they suffer about 96 incidents a year.

People who shine laser devices at any transport operators could be jailed for up to five years.

The changes to the law also mean it will no longer be necessary to prove intent to cause harm, simply pointing a laser at a vehicle will be enough for convictions.

On December 18 five aircraft approaching Gatwick reported that green laser light was aimed at them. Four of the incidents occurred between 7pm and 8:00 pm; the fifth occurred around midnight.

The illuminations occurred as they flew over Ashdown Forest, with police saying they believed those responsible were located in the Hartfield area.

Consumer minister Margot James said: “The Government has listened to concerns from pilots, health professionals and safety experts, which is why we are going further than ever before to crack down on the sale of unsafe devices.

“Public safety is of the utmost importance and we are working to increase the public’s knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these devices and strengthening the penalties for when they are misused.”

Professor John O’Hagan, of Public Health England’s laser and optical radiation dosimetry group, said: “Over time we have become increasingly concerned about the dangers of growing numbers of unlabelled and incorrectly labelled high power laser pointers being bought by the public.

“It is tragic that we continue to see eye injuries, especially in children. Laser safety experts at Public Health England have worked closely with local authorities in stopping large numbers of these lasers reaching UK consumers.

“The extra protections proposed should help even further - if you have a laser and you don’t need it, remove the batteries and get rid of it.”