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Battersea joins call for sentencing Bill

Issue: 19/06/2020


Battersea Dogs Home has joined the Labour party in urging the government to pass the long awaited Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill.
It was back in 2016 when the first attempt was made to increase the maximum sentence for animal welfare offences to five years.
Anna Turley, then the Labour MP for Redcar, introduced a Private Members Bill to increase the maximum sentence but that Bill fell when the general election was called in 2017.
In October 2017 the government announced that it planned to increase the maximum sentence to five years with Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary at that time, saying, ‘We are a nation of animal lovers and so we must ensure that those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals face suitably tough punishments.
‘These plans will give courts the tools they have requested to deal with the most abhorrent acts.
‘This is one part of our plan to deliver world-leading standards of animal welfare in the years ahead.’
This attempt reached the committee stage before falling due to the general election being called in 2019.
However, in the Queen’s Speech in December last year it was announced that the government was committed to increasing the maximum sentence.
A Private Members Bill, which has the backing of the government, was introduced by Chris Loder MP on the 5 February.
It was due to have its second reading this month but it has now been pushed back to the 23 October. Their have been calls from the opposition and Battersea Dogs Home to get the law passed as quickly as possible.
Battersea’s Chief Executive, Claire Horton CBE, said, ‘Battersea has been campaigning for stronger sentences for animal abusers since 2017 and it’s now been almost three years since the Government pledged to bring in this law. 
‘In those three years, while this Bill has been put off time and again, dozens of animal cruelty cases have come through the courts and offenders have been served with an absolute maximum of just six months for the most appalling acts of abuse - less than they would get for the same offences throughout the rest of Europe.
‘We are very heartened by the cross-party support for the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, and welcome progress being made in Scotland towards five-year sentences becoming law. We are now calling again for the UK Government to make this long overdue change in England and Wales a priority’.
In Scotland the proposed Animals and Welfare (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill has moved to stage three of a three step process before a Bill becomes law. It is expected to become law before the end of the year.

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