Battersea welcomes progress of Westminster Bill to introduce five-year sentences for animal cruelty offences
23 OCTOBER 2020
23 October 2020
Battersea has today (23 October) welcomed the progress of crucial new legislation to increase sentences for animal cruelty offences as it finally took one step closer to becoming law.
The leading animal welfare charity has campaigned for many years to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years – a call supported by tens of thousands of members of the public.
After suffering many delays and setbacks in which the previous Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill in England and Wales was subsequently dropped, the increase to maximum sentences was reintroduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Chris Loder MP in February this year. The Second Reading of the Bill took place in the House of Commons earlier today, and saw the Bill pass to its next stage with wholehearted support from MPs.
The Government has previously indicated that they intend to support the Bill during passage through Parliament and into law, and animal welfare charities like Battersea look forward to its moving forward as a matter of priority.
Claire Horton CBE, Battersea Chief Executive, said: “We’re encouraged to finally see this Bill making progress in Westminster.
“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government fulfilling their promise and changed the law in July this year - we now need the same to happen in England and Wales as a priority. The public has been clear on their support for this issue and we urge the Government to make this happen with no more delays.
“Stronger sentences will better protect innocent animals in the future, acting as a deterrent and ensuring the punishment fits the crime. Our research shows six months is the lowest sentence for animal cruelty in Europe and out of step with sentences for other offences. It’s simply not enough.”
More than 100 MPs showed their support for stronger sentences at a reception Battersea held in Parliament in February with Chris Loder MP and long-standing animal welfare campaigner, Sir Oliver Heald MP.
The Bill will now proceed to Committee stage to continue its parliamentary scrutiny, and is expected to become law early next year.
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Notes to Editors
- The Government first pledged to increase sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years at the Conservative conference in 2017. Environment Secretary at the time, Michael Gove, launched a draft Bill to bring about this change when he visited Battersea in December 2017. The results of the consultation were published in April 2018.
- A similar Bill had already begun 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 2019.
- A Private Member’s Bill is currently seeking to introduce these measures.
- The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is only six months in prison in England and Wales.
- Battersea also campaigned for the same law in Scotland in August 2017. The Scottish Government passed the law to raise maximum sentences from 12 months to five years in July this year.
- Since Battersea was founded 160 years ago, we’ve been committed to helping every dog and cat that needs us – championing their rights, loving their imperfections and expertly caring for them, because rescue is our favourite breed.
- We’re reliant on the generosity of the public to fund our vital work helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them. Now more than ever, we need funds to enable us to continue to be here for every dog and cat.
- Battersea directly helps over 5,000 dogs and cats acorss its three centres and uses its expertise, influence, and voice to help thousands more animals all over the country and across the world.
- There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 34 days and 25 days for a cat.
- In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
- To donate to Battersea, visit https://donate.battersea.org.uk.
- Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea