Animal Cruelty Sentencing

21st August 2018

As a nation of animal lovers, we rightly take pride in our commitment to high standards of animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty to animals.

The UK’s strong commitment in this area is reflected in World Animal Protection's Animal Protection Index, which judged 50 countries on their policy and legislation for animals and saw the UK ranked joint first alongside New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland. Recent revisions to on-farm welfare codes for several animals show this protection in action.

However, there have been concerns that the sentencing powers given to the Courts are not sufficient to deal with some of the most serious animal cruelty cases.

Currently the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment but following a consultation the Government has confirmed that it will legislate to increase that tenfold for serious offences, sending a clear sign there is no place for animal cruelty in England. Over the years, my family and I have given a home here in Devon to several wonderful dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and I strongly support their #NotFunny campaign. I welcome the inclusion of the proposal to increase maximum sentences in the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill.

These plans are part of a wider programme of reform to cement the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare. Other recent steps include making CCTV mandatory in all abattoirs, banning microbeads and introducing Europe's most comprehensive ban on the ivory trade.

I believe that once we have left the EU, we could do even more. EU regulations make it more difficult for us to crack down on puppy smuggling or ban the import of puppies under six months.

As we prepare to leave the EU, the Government is determined to strengthen our animal welfare laws so that we can continue to protect our much-loved pets and maintain our reputation as a world leader in protecting animals.