Politics

Brexit victory as animal cruelty crackdown could see £5k fines now UK free of EU rules

BGT: Dave and Finn audition for show in 2019

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And sponsor Andrew Rosindell has said the legislation will allow the authorities to take a much tougher line than when Britain was restricted by European Union rules and regulations. The Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill will create a system of 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.

Such penalties will provide the authorities with an additional enforcement measure to be used alongside warnings and criminal prosecution, and are intended to provide for a more consistent and targeted approach to protecting all animals from harm.

The fines will act as a deterrent alongside the new five-year maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty introduced by the Government through the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill earlier this year.

Society should rightly be judged by how it treats the animals in its care but for many years, EU regulations limited the improvements that could be made

Andrew Rosindell MP

Mr Rosindell, the MP for Romford, said: “In my 20 years as an MP 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, EU regulations limited the improvements that could be made.”

He added: “Now that we have left the EU 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.”

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith added: “Animal cruelty has no place in our society and this Government is committed to ensuring those who abuse animals are subject to the full force of the law.

“These new fines will build on our actions to improve our already world-leading animal welfare standards, including raising the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty to five years.”

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said fixed penalty notices were a useful way to combat the suffering of farm animals, horses and animals which are kept in zoos.

He added: “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.”

The penalties, used in conjunction with tougher sentences due to come into force soon, would provide better safeguards for all animals, he explained.

He continued: “We wholeheartedly support Andrew Rosindell’s Bill, are pleased to see it has Government backing and hope it progresses through parliament quickly.

“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.”

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent in April.

In addition, new legislation to protect service animals, known as “Finn’s Law”, came into force in June 2019 and prevents those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence.

The law is named after Finn, a police dog who was stabbed while pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell.

Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head, but only criminal damage charges could be brought against his attacker.

The German Shepherd required emergency veterinary treatment – but made a full recovery and returned to duty 11 weeks after the attack, eventually retiring just before his eighth birthday.

He and handler Dave Wardell subsequently reached the final of Britain’s Got Talent with their mind-reading act, moving judges including Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden to tears.

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