The RSPCA has welcomed a government announcement to review the licensing of air weapons following a number of incidents in Sussex.

Since 2012, there have been 85 incidents reported to the animal charity in East Sussex, and 68 in West Sussex until June this year.

Nationally, there were 4,828 incidents reported, with just over 2,000 involving wild birds, and more than 1,800 involving cats.

David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of external affairs 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 receives hundreds of calls every year reporting airgun attacks on animals.

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

“Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of air gun attacks and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well.”