Former Environment Secretary backs move to toughen sentences for animal abusers

A new law will ensure animal abusers are jailed for up to 5 years and animal sentience is reflected in domestic law, under plans published by the Environment Secretary today.

The Secretary of State published a draft bill which would increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years, in England and Wales. The proposed bill also sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”. Subject to consultation on the draft bill, the government will legislate to deliver both aims.

The plans underline the government’s commitment to raising animal welfare standards, ensuring there will be enhanced protections for animals as we leave the EU.

The news has been welcomed by former Environment Secretary, Dame Caroline Spelman MP.

Speaking about the proposals, she said, “I welcome the proposals put forward today by the Environment Secretary. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, which is why I will support the Governments proposals to ensure that this principle is effectively written into law in order to protect their welfare.

“This draft bill will mean;

  • “Recognising and enshrining animal sentience in domestic UK law;
  • “Increasing the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years;
  • “Courts retaining the ability to hand out unlimited fines and ban offenders from owning animals in future”.

The plans to increase maximum sentences follows a number of recent shocking cases where courts have said they would have handed down longer sentences had they been available, including a case last year when a man trained dogs to ruthlessly torture other animals.

The move has been strongly welcomed by animal welfare groups and follows dedicated campaigning from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.