Individuals who commit offences against animals will face fines of up to £5,000 under new legislation introduced to Parliament today. The fines will be introduced to ensure that offenders face tougher penalties for smaller crimes in addition to the existing maximum 5 year prison sentence for the most serious offences.
The Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill, a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Andrew Rosindell MP and which is backed by the Government, will create a system of a financial penalties of up to £5,000 for animal health and welfare offences. The penalties, which could include on-the-spot fines, can be issued to individuals who have cruelly mistreated pets, zoo animals and livestock.
These new penalties will provide the authorities with an additional enforcement measure to be used alongside warnings and criminal prosecution. These penalties will introduce a more consistent and targeted approach to protecting all animals from harm.
The UK has a long history of tackling animal cruelty. The new fines will act as a key deterrent to would be animal abusers in addition to the new five year maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty, which was introduced by the Government through the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill earlier this year.
Andrew Rosindell M.P. said:
“In my 20 years as an M.P. I have consistently fought for animal welfare. Society should rightly be judged by how it treats the animals in its care but for many years, E.U. regulations limited the improvements that could be made.
Now that we have left the E.U. we have an unrivalled opportunity to make the changes that are so desperately needed. That means stronger sentences for the worst animal abusers under Chris Loder’s historic legislation.
It also means ensuring there are no gaps in legislation that animal abusers can exploit, by committing offences too severe for a warning, but not severe enough for prosecution. My Bill will close that gap, creating fines of up to £5,000 while always being clear that criminal prosecution will always be used for the most serious offences.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said:
“Fixed penalty notices are really useful to quickly combat suffering of farmed animals, horses and animals kept in zoos.
We are pleased that enforcement bodies will be given powers and revenue from these fines in order to safeguard animal welfare should this bill become law.
We hope these enforcement notices will serve as a good deterrent to those causing suffering to animals and also an important education tool to prevent them repeating their mistakes in the future.
These penalties, used in conjunction with tougher sentences which are coming into force soon, will provide better safeguards for all animals.
We wholeheartedly support Andrew Rosindell’s Bill, are pleased to see it has Government backing and hope it progresses through parliament quickly.”
A spokesperson for Cats Protection said:
“Cats Protection supports the use of fixed penalty notices, where appropriate, to enable more flexible enforcement against those that commit crimes against animals. The charity is delighted that Andrew Rosindell will be introducing a bill to take this issue forward.
We hope that having the option to issues fixed penalty notices, alongside the recently passed sentencing bill that increased the maximum sentence for serious animal cruelty offences to five years, will help deter those that seek to inflict harm on cats.”
Co-founder of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Lorraine Platt said:
“ Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation welcome Andrew Rosindell MP’s new Bill which will create a system of Fixed Penalty Notices for animal welfare offences which fall below the prosecutorial standard.At present, with the phasing out of the Common Agricultural Policy, there is a gap in UK legislation between warnings and full criminal prosecution. A significant number of offences will exist between these two potential measures. Andrew’s Bill will create a punishment to fill this gap with fines of between £100 and £5,000.We wish Andrew Rosindell much success with this important new Bill and look forward to it passing into legislation”.
The Bill will complement plans to introduce greater protections for animals as outlined the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which builds on our existing world leading standards by committing to a range of new game changing welfare measures to protect pets, livestock and wild animals.