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News Report Page 20 of 35
Publication Date:- 2018-03-02
News reports located on this page = 1.

RSPCA calls for airgun licensing after receiving 4,500 calls in 5 years

THE RSPCA is calling for mandatory licensing of airguns in England and Wales, as it is revealed the charity received 4,500 calls in 5 years about attacks on animals using such weapons.

Britain's biggest animal welfare charity will be giving the recommendation as part of a submission to the Government's current review of the regulation of air weapons following 2 serious incidents involving children.

The latest figures show that the most calls to the RSPCA reporting airgun attacks on animals in 2017 came from the West Midlands. The RSPCA has received, on average, 900 calls a year since 2013 reporting incidents of animals being targeted by people using air weapons.  Now 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 1 January 2017.

However, in 2017 the RSPCA still received 884 calls reporting air gun attacks on animals across England and Wales. A total of 4,500 reports of air gun attacks were received by the charity, from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017.

Her Majesty's Senior Coroner for Suffolk, Dr Peter Dean, wrote to the Home Office requesting a review of legislation covering the use and manufacture of air weapons, following the death of a 13 year old boy, in May 2016, after he was accidentally 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. It is 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 regulation of these weapons in England and Wales will better protect people and animals. The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter controls over airguns as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying 1. 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 RSPCA and British Association for Shooting and Conservation plan to stage a joint conference this spring to bring together key stakeholders from industry, the police, animal charities and more to try to identify the scale of the problem and find practical solutions.

The highest number of calls to the RSPCA about air gun attacks in 2017 came from the West Midlands, Kent and Greater London.

Rank Area Number
1th West Midlands 54
2th Kent 51
3th Greater London 49
4th Greater Manchester 47
5th West Yorkshire 46
Joint 6th Essex 29
Joint 6th Nottinghamshire 29
7th South Yorkshire 28
8th Staffordshire 27
9th Cheshire 26
10th North Yorkshire 24

Figures for the RSPCA's Midlands and Cheshire/Merseyside Region:-

Rank County Airgun attacks reported 2017
1th West Midlands 54
2th Nottinghamshire 29
3th Staffordshire 27
4th Cheshire 26
5th Merseyside 21
6th Northamptonshire 15
7th Derbyshire 11
7th Shropshire 11
7th Leicestershire 11
Joint 8th Warwickshire 9
Joint 8th Buckinghamshire 9

In 2017 the RSPCA received calls alleging attacks on:- 519 wild birds, 341 cats, 125 wild mammals and 111 dogs, amongst others.

The penalties faced if caught deliberately using an airgun to injure an animal can be up to 6 months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.

Legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland requires anyone who possesses, purchases or uses an air weapon to have a licence.

Incidents in which an animal has been shot or targeted by someone using an airgun should contact the RSPCA's national cruelty line on:- 0300 1234 999.

To support the RSPCA's work and help our officers continue investigating animal cruelty please donate by visiting:- RSPCA.Org.UK/WinterAppeal.

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