Battersea welcomes progress of Scottish Bill to introduce five-year sentences for animal cruelty

27 MAY 2020

Leading animal welfare charity Battersea has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce five-year maximum sentences for animal cruelty as its new legislation took one step closer to becoming law.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, introduced in October last year, passed Stage 2 of the legislative process yesterday. If it becomes law, the Bill would see maximum sentences for the worst animal cruelty offences increased from the current 12 months to five years imprisonment in Scotland. 

Battersea has campaigned for stronger sentences for animal abusers in Scotland since August 2017. At 12 months, the current maximum sentence for animal cruelty is amongst the lowest across the whole of Europe – with only five other countries having lower sentences (including England and Wales). 

Battersea’s Deputy Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: “We are encouraged to see this Bill making real progress in Holyrood. The Scottish Government is sending out a clear message that Scotland is no longer prepared to tolerate the most shocking cases of animal cruelty and will respond accordingly. This Bill will protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who would abuse and mistreat them.”

The Bill will now proceed to a third and final stage, where it will be voted on and approved. This Bill is expected to become law towards the end of the year. 

Battersea has also been calling on the Government in England and Wales to progress this much-needed legislation. The Bill has already gone through the Parliamentary process once before, however, the Bill fell during the prorogation of Parliament in October, and a second time when a general election was called in December. A Private Member’s Bill is currently seeking to introduce these measures, but is not scheduled to have its Second Reading until September 2020. 

For more information visit Battersea’s report, Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in Scotland, can be found here.


For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9265 or email 

Notes to Editors

  • The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 is 12 months in Scotland, compared to two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. 
  • Battersea launched a campaign to increase the 12-month maximum sentence in Scotland to five years in September 2017. For more information, see Battersea’s report, Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in Scotland
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