The government has announced its support of a new law that would mean animal abusers could face up to five years in prison.
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was published in Parliament by MP Chris Loder MP on 5 February. The new Bill will enable “tougher” prison sentences for the “most serious perpetrators” of animal cruelty, bringing the current maximum six-month sentence up to five years.
It will be “one of the toughest” sanctions for animal abuse in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare. It also follows a public consultation in 2017, where over 70% of respondents supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences.
Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, said: “I was shocked to learn that in 2019, the RSPCA investigated more than 130,700 complaints of cruelty against animals and secured 1,678 convictions.
“I believe tougher sentencing will act as a greater deterrent against the worst examples of animal cruelty. We are renowned as a nation of animal lovers and Britain needs to lead the world on animal welfare legislation.”
RSPCA chief executive, Chris Sherwood, added: “We are pleased a new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is being introduced and hope it will be ‘third time lucky’ for this proposed legislation following a couple of false starts last year.
“We see horrendous acts of cruelty perpetrated on animals and have long campaigned for the current maximum six-month jail term to be increased to five years. The Bill has come so close to being enacted in the past – let’s not allow this important change to animal cruelty sentencing to slip through our hands.”
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill will be introduced into the House of Commons, before moving to the House of Lords. If passed, it will come into effect in two months after it receives Royal Assent.