A NATIONAL animal charity is calling for airgun licensing after receiving ten calls to airgun attacks over the past 12 months in Hampshire.

The RSPCA has been calling for stricter controls over airguns for years, as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying one.

Now, it has revealed that it has received 4,500 calls in England and Wales over the past five years of animals being attacked using the weapons.

On average, it has had 900 calls every 12 months since 2013.

Now, it says that it wants to see England and Wales follow the lead of Scotland, where airgun owners and users have been required to have a licence since January 2017.

A letter was written to the Home Office by a senior coroner to the Home Office following the death of a 13-year-old boy in May 2016 after he was shot with an air weapon.

David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of external affairs, said: "The review around the regulation of air weapons is welcomed by the RSPCA and we hope our submission to the government will help demonstrate the scale of calls to us every year, and remind the government it is important to protect animals as well as people.

"The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter controls. Our 24-hour cruelty hotline receives hundreds of calls every year reporting airgun attacks on animals.

"Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well."

The charity plans to team up with the British Association for shooting and conservation to stage a joint conference in the spring in order to bring together police, other animal charities and more to try and identify the scale of the problem and find a solution.

In 2017, the RSPCA received calls alleging attacks on 519 wild birds, 341 cats, 125 wild mammals and 111 dogs.The penalties for using an airgun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.