AN ANIMAL welfare organisation has welcomed the decision to review air weapon licensing after more than 100 incidents were reported in Hampshire in the last five years.

The RSPCA said that it was “heartbreaking” that tragic incidents had sparked the review that the organisation had long been calling for.

Since 2012, a total of 113 incidents involving airguns have been reported to the RSPCA.

Following a request from a coroner, the government announced that it would be reviewing the licence requirements, something which David Bowles, assistant director at the RSPCA, welcomed.

He said: “The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter regulations around owning airguns as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying an airgun.

“Our 24-hour cruelty hotline received hundreds of calls every year reporting these attacks on animals.

“Last year, we received 890 calls and this year looks set to top that, and reach a five-year-high.”

2016 saw the highest number of incidents reported in Hampshire to the welfare charity since 2012, with an average of more than three every month.

The review announcement comes following the case of Benjamin Wragge, 13, from Suffolk, who died in May 2016 after he was accidentally shot with an air weapon.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean, wrote to the Home Office to request the review.

David said that it was heartbreaking that it took a ‘tragic’ case to prompt the potential for change.

David added: “It’s heartbreaking that such a tragic incident has sparked this review and our thoughts go out to Benjamin’s family and friends, but we hope that any future regulations around the licensing of these weapons in England and Wales will better protect people, children, and animals.

As previously reported in The Gazette, in February 2016 17-year-old cat Bob, was severely injured and went blind in one eye after being shot.

Minister for policy, Nick Hurd, said: “I think that this is an appropriate time to take stock of the regulatory position and assess whether the current controls, which are already strong, continue to be appropriate and effective.

“I intend to look carefully at the existing controls on air weapons.”