RNLI volunteers were targeted with a laser which was shone into their eyes as the crew were out on an emergency call.

The mindless attack happened a few minutes after the lifeboat had launched at 12.30am on Monday to help in the search for a vulnerable person at South Gare near Redcar.

The green laser light, like that emitted from a laser pointer, was directed at the volunteer crew as the lifeboat passed by Newcommen Terrace in the Coatham area of the town.

Mike Picknett, deputy launching authority at Redcar RNLI, who was in charge of the RNLI operation, blasted the reckless behaviour of the offender.

He said: "This was an appalling, reckless attack on our crew. They were navigating in near total darkness. The laser could have permanently damaged any of the crew’s vision had it shone directly into their eyes.

"Not only could it have done serious harm to our volunteers, it might well have jeopardised the rescue mission and put other lives at risk."

None of the crew were harmed by the attack and during the subsequent search the same team of volunteers were able to give the missing person vital casualty care after the person was located by the police helicopter in sand dunes at the South Gare.

Cleveland Police have been informed of the incident by the RNLI.