Thank you for contacting me about animal cruelty sentencing. All those who are working for this change in the law have been much encouraged by and are gratified by the high levels of public support for it.
There is no place in this country for animal cruelty, and we must ensure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has now been published in Parliament by Chris Loder MP, and will be backed by the Government. The new Bill will enable tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the current maximum of six months to up to five years.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak and the changes to the setup of Parliament, this Bill will now be heard on 23rd October. This delay is regrettable but the present circumstances do pose problems for the UK Parliament that are both more complex and on a larger scale than those faced by assemblies with fewer and more limited areas of responsibility. I can reassure constituents that the Government continues to support the Bill and I will continue to monitor its progress with great interest and concern.
I believe that this increase in sentencing will send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. The maximum five-year sentence will become one of the toughest punishments in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
I am aware that a public consultation found 70 per cent of people supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences. I am encouraged that the planned change in law means the courts will be able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.
These increased maximum sentences will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and gross neglect in the future, and builds on recent positive action to protect animals, including plans to ban third party puppy and kitten sales and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.
Craig Whittaker MP