There is no place in this country for animal cruelty, and we must ensure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has now been introduced in the House by Chris Loder MP, and will be backed by the Government. The new Bill will enable tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the current maximum of six months to up to five years.
As you know, due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the changes to the setup of Parliament, this Bill will now be heard on 11th September. While I appreciate it your frustration at this delay to such an important piece of legislation, sadly the pandemic emergency has dramatically slowed the passage of parliamentary business as MPs have had less access to Parliament. There have also been a number of pieces of emergency legislation which have needed to be prioritised.
I believe that this increase in sentencing will send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. The maximum five-year sentence will become one of the toughest punishments in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
I am aware that a public consultation found 70 percent of people supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences. I am encouraged that the planned change in law means the courts will be able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.
These increased maximum sentences will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and gross neglect in the future, and builds on recent positive action to protect animals, including plans to ban third party puppy and kitten sales and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.