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NPA response to Defra consultation on Penalty Notices

24th Jul 2023 / By Rebecca Veale

NPA has responded to a Defra consultation on the proposed introduction of penalty notices for animal health and welfare offences in England.

In April 2022, the Animals (Penalty Notices) Act was passed in Parliament. The Act provides the powers to introduce penalty notices in England for relevant animal health and welfare offences (and in Wales for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991).

It states that the Secretary of State may through regulations, prescribe offences as relevant offences for the purposes of this Act but requires the Secretary of State to make regulations to ‘switch on’ the penalty notices option for relevant offences.

Defra believe that these new and proportionate financial penalties for animal health and welfare offences could add to, and complement, the current enforcement regime to support early behaviour change to promote compliance and better protect the nation’s animals. This could include animal health and welfare offences, licencing and animal identification.

As NPA we have been involved in the discussions about this policy development for some time. In response to the consultation NPA supported the proposals, but noted that continuity across the country is essential, as such guidance and frameworks for inspectors is needed to provide a consistent and proportionate approach to the use of Penalty Notices.

The use of penalty notices is likely to follow advice and guidance from the inspector to the keeper and NPA suggested Government collaborate with industry to ensure the guidance is relevant to commercial pig production.