News Mps To Debate Tougher Sentences For Animal Abuse

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MPs to debate tougher sentences for animal abuse
13th November 2020

By Justine Thompson

A Bill to increase the maximum sentence available for animal welfare offences is one step closer after it passed a Second Reading.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, brought forward by Chris Loder MP, aims to raise the maximum sentence for the worst animal abusers from a prison term of six months to five years.

The Bill has passed the Second Reading stage in Parliament at the end of October and is now continuing to committee stage for debate.

In 2017, the Government pledged to reform the maximum sentence for those prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act.

During the three years since that announcement, immediate custodial sentences were imposed on 132 individuals in RSPCA cases and more than half of those (73) received sentences of more than 17 weeks, close to the six-month ceiling.

SEVERITY

The RSPCA says that if the maximum sentence was raised from six months to five years the courts would have more flexibility to impose a sentence that better reflects the severity of the crime.

England and Wales currently have some of the lowest sentences for animal welfare offences in the world. Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland have recently increased their maximum sentences to five years and the RSPCA wants to see the sentences here brought in line.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “The sentences available to English and Welsh courts dealing with serious offences of animal cruelty are inadequate. Despite being one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to animal welfare, we’re trailing behind other parts of the UK and the rest of Europe with sentencing.

“It’s time this changed and we had sentences available to our courts that better reflect the severity of the horrendous crimes we’re dealing with as well as acting as a deterrent to others.”