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Questions to Anita - Support Battersea’s call for five year animal cruelty sentences

May 31, 2017 4:17 PM

Supporters of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home's campaign to increase the maximum custodial sentence for the most serious acts of animal cruelty to five years imprisonment have asked for my support during the election.

They comment:

Currently, the maximum sentence for such offences in England and Wales is just six months imprisonment, a ban from keeping animals and a fine. That is all the Courts can do even in the worst cases of starving, beating or killing animals. In comparison, the maximum custodial sentence for fly tipping is five years and theft is seven years imprisonment. It is clear that the current maximum sentence for animal cruelty is inadequate, and out of step with sentencing for other crimes.

Battersea's new report, 'Sentencing for animal cruelty in England and Wales', surveyed some 100 jurisdictions across the UK, Europe, USA and elsewhere. 93% of the countries studied provide for at least a sentence of 1 year or much more. 54% of the countries can impose a prison sentence of 3 years or more and 34% can sentence offenders to five years or more in prison.

At just six months, England and Wales have the joint lowest maximum sentence anywhere in the survey, with Scotland faring only a little better with a twelve month sentence. This is a shameful position for a "nation of animal lovers". It is clear that the current maximum custodial sentence is unduly lenient compared to other countries across the world.

Furthermore the Coalition Government, rightly, used the argument of deterrence for increasing the sentences for owners of dangerously out of control dogs and irresponsible dog ownership in 2013. Increasing the sentence for the most severe animal cruelty will help to protect beloved animals by deterring perpetrators from committing such criminal offences. This will only work if a longer sentence is made available to the Courts for the most shocking acts of animal cruelty.

It is now time to make the punishment fit the crime and give Courts the flexibility to punish animal cruelty properly. Battersea believes that this change would be popular with the public - a recent poll has shown that around 7 in 10 people back this move.

Anita DayAnita says

Liberal Democrats believe in the highest standards of animal welfare and will continue to fight for these.

Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure all EU animal welfare legislation is protected throughout any Brexit negotiations.

We will introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years.