A government crackdown could see people shining laser pens to distract pilots face hefty fines or jail sentences.

The Department fro Transport has unveiled stronger new powers designed to protect the public.

Shining lasers at any transport operator will become an offence under new legislation.

The new law is designed to make it even safer for travel by aircraft as well as passengers using buses, taxis and trains.

It is currently an offence to shine lasers at pilots and offenders could face fines of up to £2,500.

But police do not have the powers to effectively tackle and investigate the inappropriate use of laser devices against aircraft, trains, buses and other forms of transport.

One of the current laws means that police have to prove a person endangered the aircraft when committing the offence of shining a laser.

However, the new law will mean that police will only have to prove the offence of shining the laser, according to the DfT.

As many as 1,500 laser attacks a year on aircraft have been reported since 2011.

Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences.

“Whilst we know laser pens can be fun and many users have good intentions, some are not aware of the risks of dazzling drivers or pilots putting public safety at risk.

“That’s why we want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm. This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped.

“What I am announcing are plans to give the police effective powers to investigate and bring those who misuse lasers to justice.”

British Airline Pilots Association flight safety specialist Steve Landells said: “Balpa welcomes this move to tighten the law on lasers.

“Any move to give the police and authorities more powers to tackle this real and growing threat to flight safety is a good thing, and we are pleased that the government has included action on lasers in this bill.”