Maximum sentences for cruelty in Scotland raised to five years

22 JULY 2020

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Battersea has warmly welcomed the Scottish Government and MSPs from all parties working together to pass legislation which will increase maximum sentences for the worst animal cruelty offences in Scotland from 12 months to five years.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020 has now received Royal Assent. For Battersea, this is the culmination of many years of campaigning to raise Scotland’s maximum sentences to five years, in line with many other countries in Europe.

We’re really grateful to all of our supporters who wrote to MSPs to call for a change in the law. The Scottish Government has sent out a clear message that Scotland will not tolerate the most heinous animal cruelty crimes and will respond accordingly. We believe that this change will help protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who abuse and mistreat animals.

Research published by Battersea in 2017 showed that the maximum sentence of 12 months for animal cruelty in Scotland was among the lowest across the whole of Europe – with only five other countries having lower sentences (including England and Wales). Both fly tipping and theft carried higher sentences. This is now rightly being addressed.

The focus now shifts to Westminster and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which was introduced in February. The Second Reading date for the Bill has been postponed a number of times and is not scheduled to take place until 23 October 2020. This is despite the Bill having huge cross-party support, and the Government first pledging its support for a change in the law in England and Wales three years ago.

The Bill has been published twice before but fell during the prorogation of Parliament in October 2019, and a second time when a general election was called last December.

Together, we’ll make sure that Westminster follows Scotland’s lead. We know the political support is there - it's time to get this over the line.

You can still play an important role by:

  • Writing to your local MP asking them to support the Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill and for an update on its progress. We've made a template for you, so it's quick and easy.
  • Sharing Battersea’s posts on progress towards five-year sentences on Facebook and Twitter.

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