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RSPCA to keep powers of prosecution

Private prosecutions will continue to be made by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a new report reveals.

MPs called for the government to lessen the prosecution power of the RSPCA in November 2016 so it only acted in exceptional cases.

This followed allegations of pets being wrongly taken from homes without a chance for appeal.

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The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced this will not be the case and the RSPCA will continue with its power of prosecution.

Jeremy Cooper, RSPCA chief executive, said: “We are extremely pleased that the government continues to recognise the exceptional role carried out by the RSPCA in investigating and prosecuting those accused of the worst cases of animal cruelty and neglect.

“The Society has a proud history of nearly 200 years investigating and prosecuting animal welfare offences.

“We know that the public overwhelmingly wants us to undertake this role, and we welcome the support we have to carry out our prosecutions work from vets, local authorities and other animal welfare organisations.”

The RSPCA did criticise the ‘ignored the recommendation to increase the maximum sentence for animals cruelty offences to five years’, however.

Jeremy said: “Our inspectors investigate shocking incidents of animal cruelty such as animals being scalded with boiling water, stabbed, shot, poisoned or forced to fight to the death. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“The new sentencing guidelines announced last month by the sentencing council are a step in the right direction but do not go far enough.

“We would like to see a further review of sentencing under the Animal Welfare Act to allow magistrates to give stronger sentences to those guilty of the worst animal offences.

“This could bring sentences for animal welfare cruelty and neglect in England and Wales into line with Northern Ireland where the maximum sentence is five years in prison.”

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