New bill announced to increase sentences for animal cruelty

Animal abusers could now face up to five years in prison under the new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), today.

The announcement by Environment Secretary Michael Gove follows a meeting organised by the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA, which brought together, ten other leading animal welfare organisations and the prime minister’s environment adviser, Lord Randall, on Monday.

Once the Bill has passed through parliament, the worst animal abusers will face  one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.

Andy Knott, MBE, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Together we sent a powerful message of determination and hope to those in power, and we are delighted with Mr Gove’s announcement, which shows they have listened.”

“This will be the biggest single change in animal welfare for many years and will be a more credible deterrent to those who would do harm to animals.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“There is no place in this country for animal cruelty. That is why I want to make sure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. Our new Bill sends a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, with the maximum five-year sentence one of the toughest punishments in Europe.

“I am committed to making our country the best place in the world for the care and protection of animals.”

Andy Knott with the RSPCA at 10 Downing Street calling on tougher animal cruelty sentences.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove first announced the Government’s intention to increase maximum prison sentences from six months to five years in September 2017. Following a national campaign by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, he visited the charity in south London in December 2017 to announce plans for a new draft bill on the issue.

However, despite repeated promises and assurances by the Government to amend the Animal Welfare Act, and the policy being announced at two consecutive Conservative Party conferences, the change has yet to be made – until now.


Notes to Editors

  • Pictured above is CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, Andy Knott who stands 5th from the right alongside Lord Randall who is pictured on the left of the front row.
  • For more information please contact Emma Judd, Deputy Director of Campaigns, on 07494399074

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