Animal Abusers Given Tougher Sentences
New measures from the government have given way to tougher sentences being imposed on those who are found guilty of abusing animals. Previously, the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty was 12 months. However, the new legislation means that the maximum penalty has been raised to 5 years in prison. The changes to those found guilty of animal abuse will come into effect on 29th June 2021.
Animal Cruelty Sentences Raised to 5 Years
The current government, who have often pledged to return fox hunting and have been responsible for a massive badger cull – in spite of the science – surprised many by increasing the animal cruelty sentences. In 2017, they pledged to reform the Animal Welfare Act, with support from across many parties. However, after such a long period, many weren’t sure whether they’d actually move forward with the promise.
This bill was brought forward by MP Chris Loder and Lord Randall of Uxbridge as a Private Members’ Bill in June 2019. And had to pass through the House of Commons and the House of Lords before being accepted and given the Royal Assent (the stamp that allows bills to be enshrined in law). A bill usually has the chance to pass through parliament three times, and can be voted down all three times, before being pushed forward to the next phase of legislation creation.
Animal Welfare Groups Are Delighted
The RSPCA has released a statement, citing “We’re proud that the UK has some of the best animal welfare standards around, which is only fitting for a nation of animal lovers.” Indeed, the UK has made some massive headway over the past year, regarding rights for pets and those with pets. The most notable of which was the change in UK housing legislation, which offered tenants the right to move in with a pet, as standard.
The law currently only covers England and Wales, as Scotland have more power over their own parliament and legislation. However, Scotland has had their own laws in place since December 2020. Regarding the changes, the Scottish government have said that the changes reflected its “commitment to ensuring Scotland’s animals have the best possible protection”.
In addition to this, Scotland placed through “Finn’s Law. A law named after police dog Finn, who was killed as he protected his master from an attack. This law makes it harder for those who harm service animals to claim they were acting in self-defence. This news has, naturally, been welcomed by those in uniform, who rely on their dogs for protection. As well as those who use their horses and dogs in detection and reconnaissance.
A Sign of Things to Come?
The new laws are expected to come into force on 29th June 2021. Once enforced, it will provide courts across the country an opportunity to place animal abusers behind bars, for longer. It is also hoped that the longer sentences will have a greater effect in rehabilitating offenders. As well as acting as a deterrent for those who felt they could ‘get away’ with harming animals in their care.
Regarding the changes, Chief of RSPCA Cris Sherwood has said “This reform is long overdue. For many years, the most violent and horrific abuse and cruelty received a maximum penalty of just a few months”. However, there is still plenty of work to be done surrounding animal welfare. In particular, maintaining high standards of care in agriculture, following the break from EU rules.