The maximum prison sentence of six months for cruelty to animals in England and Wales is the lowest in Europe. Our research report found that six months was the lowest custodial sentence in the 100 global jurisdictions we studied. For example, the maximum sentence is five years imprisonment in Ireland and New Zealand. This is out of step both with other countries, and with other offences; such as fly tipping, which carries a maximum of five years.
Battersea welcomes the Scottish Government’s Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill which is currently making its way through the parliamentary process in Scotland, and will introduce a five year maximum sentence for animal cruelty.
As a result of our campaign and cross-party political support and work, backed by over 70,000 Battersea supporters and 122 MPs, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was laid in Parliament on 26 June 2019. Disappointingly, the Bill fell at the General Election. The Government pledged in the Queen’s Speech to deliver this much needed legislation. This Bill has subsequently been brought back via a Private Members Bill. We hope it will proceed as quickly as possible to become an Act, providing a deterrent for the worst acts of animal cruelty, whilst ensuring those who commit animal cruelty are punished proportionately and safeguarding animal welfare. At a recent event in Parliament hosted by Sir Oliver Heald MP and Battersea, 101 MPs pledged their support for a change to the law.