By WAN –
August 8, 2018
Animal abusers in the UK who commit the most heinous crimes will face up to five years in jail after draft legislation gained strong support from welfare groups and the public yesterday.
Currently the maximum sentence is six months but following a consultation the Government confirmed it will legislate to increase that tenfold for serious offences, sending a clear sign there is no place for animal cruelty in England.
“We will now legislate so courts have the power to punish offenders properly,” Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Gardiner said in a statement. “We will also continue to work with welfare organizations to ensure that animal sentience is properly recognized in our legislation once we have left the EU.”
The draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill was put out to consultation in December 2017.
But in line with the recommendation from the EFRA Committee, earlier this year, legislation on sentencing will be brought forward separately so courts have the powers available to them.
The Government also supported the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, introduced to Parliament by Sir Oliver Heald MP. The Bill, which passed its second reading in July, will ensure service animals such as police dogs and horses will be offered greater protection. The proposed legislation will remove a section of the current law of self-defense, often used by those who harm a service animal in the process of committing a crime.
The plans to increase maximum sentences follow a number of shocking cases where courts have said they would have handed down longer sentences had they been available.
These include a case last year when a man trained dogs to ruthlessly torture other animals, including trapping a fox and a terrier dog in a cage to brutally attack each other.
These plans are part of wider program of reform to cement the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare. This includes making CCTV mandatory in all English slaughterhouses and taking steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter as it leaves the EU.
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