Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has joined celebrations following the successful passage of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.
The Bill completed all its stages in the Houses of Parliament on 28th April and has now received Royal Assent, meaning animal abusers convicted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 could face up to five years in prison.
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act is set to cover both England and Wales, once the Senedd for Wales passes a legislative consent motion - which the Welsh Government supports. This will bring England and Wales into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where convicted animal abusers can be jailed for up to five years.
The RSPCA - the principal investigator of animal neglect and cruelty in England and Wales - has been campaigning for tougher sentencing, alongside its colleagues in the animal welfare sector, for years.
“Having supported this important piece of legislation throughout its Parliamentary passage, I am pleased that it has finally received Royal Assent. This is a huge step forward for animal welfare, and I know – from the correspondence I have received on this matter – that this development will be welcomed by many local residents. It’s a matter that I too have been campaigning on for many years.
“My thanks to the animal welfare charities like the RSPCA and Battersea for their work on pushing for this Bill.”
Chief executive Chris Sherwood said:
“This law is a huge step forward for animal welfare in the UK and we’re delighted that justice will now be served for animals. Tougher sentences will act as a stronger deterrent to potential animal abusers and will help us in our aim to stamp out animal cruelty once and for all.
“Every year our officers are faced with cases of the most unimaginable cruelty: animals beaten, stabbed, shot and burned; unwanted or elderly pets being drowned; wild animals shot with crossbows or set on fire; gangs forcing cockerels to fight to the death; and breeders cutting off puppies’ ears to make them look tough.
“Since this Bill was introduced animals have been starved, shot, stabbed, beaten to death and drowned. At least now, in those cases that leave us heartbroken, our courts will be able to hand out sentences that truly reflect the severity of the crimes.”