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Government proposes longer sentences for animal cruelty

23rd Aug 2018 / By Alistair Driver

The Government has proposed to increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty to five years’ imprisonment.

The plans, part of a wider Government drive to raise UK animal welfare standards, are included in a new draft bill, based largely on the Government’s response to a consultation on animal sentience and the penalties for breaches of animal welfare last year.

The draft bill stated that 70% of respondents to the consultation supported the proposal to raise the maximum penalty for animal cruelty the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Following the controversy over the Government’s definition of animal sentience last year, Defra noted the concerns raised by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the ‘breadth of comments received to the consultation’. It said it would continue to engage with stakeholders over the coming months to further refine the proposals on sentience.

“The government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU,” the draft bill said.

In a briefing, the NFU said this means that only the sentencing clause will be taken forward now in a separate bill to the sentience clauses to ensure the higher maximum penalty is available to the courts as soon as possible.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the association welcomed the proposal for tougher sentences for animal cruelty and would continue to engage with the Government on animal sentience.

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