Battersea welcomes Government decision to introduce five-year sentences for animal cruelty in England

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home fully supports the Government announcement that it intends to increase maximum sentences for the worst cases of animal cruelty in England from six months to five years. The news comes just eight months after Battersea launched its campaign for tougher sentences.

Claire Horton, Battersea’s Chief Executive, said: "Battersea is thrilled that the Government plans to raise the maximum sentence for the most abhorrent cases of animal cruelty in England from six months to five years.

“This shows that the political will is there to make the punishment fit the crime and so many innocent animals will benefit from their actions.”

Battersea launched its campaign calling for five-year sentences back in February at Westminster - a call the public answered loudly, while some of the UK's best-loved comedians – Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman - also pledged their support.

Claire Horton added: “This news will be very positively received by the public, the majority of whom share Battersea's wish to see this change. Since we launched our campaign calling for five-year sentences, the momentum has clearly been building and the response has been tremendous, with close to 62,000 members of the public across the UK calling on their elected representatives to back this change – and 145 politicians already have."

Research Battersea published to coincide with the campaign launch shows England's current six-month maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences is by far the lowest across Europe. Northern Ireland and Ireland both have a maximum sentence of five years, while the Scottish Government announced in September it is also willing to increase its own maximum sentence to five years.

Claire Horton continued: “I would also like to thank the Scottish Government who made it clear last month that they are willing to raise the maximum sentence in Scotland from 12 months to five years. We cannot underestimate the positive impact their position has had on this issue.

"Battersea stands ready to help in any way we can to support this move to five-year sentences and make such shocking cruelty to animals a thing of the past.”

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Notes to Editors

  • Visit notfunny.battersea.org.uk or use the hashtag #NotFunny on Twitter to follow the campaign
  • The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is only six months in prison in England and Wales and just 12 months in Scotland, compared to two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • On 5 September 2017, the Scottish Government announced a Bill to increase its maximum sentence to five years in prison.
  • In 2016, 1,401 people were convicted of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
  • Battersea published a new report, Sentencing for animal cruelty in England and Wales, on 20 February 2017.
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7,000 dogs and cats.