This week, a Bill to change the law to give tougher prison sentences for people who abuse animals, passed its second reading in the House of Commons. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which was debated in Parliament on Tuesday, has my full support. If it gets the go-ahead, this law change will mean those people who are convicted of animal abuse will face up to five years in prison, rather than six months under current legislation.
Last year the RSPCA received more than 1.1 million calls from people reporting abuse and cruelty to animals. This led to 130,700 investigations and more than 1,600 convictions.
In 2017, Kent was the county with the highest number of horses collected by the RSPCA in the UK following complaints.
This Bill, which was consulted on last year, was well received by the public, with 70% of respondents supporting tougher sentencing.
I think it is absolutely right to bring this law in to send a clear message that abuse against animals will not be tolerated. Courts will be able to take tough action on the worst offenders and I hope this law will act as a deterrent.
As well as increasing the sentencing rules, I would also like to see this law included in the Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme so that members of the public can ask for any future lenient sentences to be reviewed.
I hope this Bill, along with Finn’s Law, preventing those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence and Lucy’s Law, banning third-party sales of puppies and kittens, will mean the UK is leading the world in its protection of animals.
This Bill is a matter that I and the public rightly feel strongly about and the sentences for these offences should reflect this sentiment.