The NFU has welcomed the announcement that the Government intends to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty.
The NFU supported increasing the maximum penalty for animal cruelty when responding to the 2017 government consultation on animal sentience and the penalties for breaches of animal welfare.
The draft bill states that the maximum penalty for animal cruelty, specified under section 32(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, will be increased to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
This is currently a draft bill and therefore necessary legislation will be brought forward as soon as Parliamentary time permits.
Only the sentencing clause will be taken forward now following the EFRA Committee’s recommendation that the sentencing clauses are taken forward in a separate bill to the sentience clauses. This is to ensure the higher maximum penalty is available to the courts as soon as possible.
The government’s response to the Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) consultation states that for animal sentience they have noted the varied stakeholder responses, the concerns of the EFRA Committee and the proposal made by Lord Trees and will continue to engage with them over the coming months to refine Government’s proposals on sentience – the NFU welcomes this ongoing dialogue.