Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has said that sentences for those guilty of animal cruelty could significantly increase. The current maximum sentence for animal cruelty is six months in prison, but the Government is proposing to increase this to five years imprisonment in the most serious of cases.
Gove said in a statement:
“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”.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said:
“We are thrilled that the Government has responded to calls from the RSPCA and members of the public to toughen up sentences for the worst animal abusers. We now feel that those who commit these acts will soon be receiving sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crime and hope this will act as a real deterrent against cruelty and neglect.
The RSPCA picks up the pieces of animal cruelty every day of the year. Our inspectors regularly rescue animals from horrific circumstances of mistreatment, brutality and neglect. It is only through the prosecutions that we take that many of the perpetrators are brought to justice.
The strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences is huge – but at the moment the courts are limited by the law under which the strongest sentence for animal cruelty is six months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine – but this rarely happens.
Michael Gove’s promise to bring sentences in line with Northern Ireland – which has a maximum of five years imprisonment – should help to deter people from abusing and neglecting animals and will finally mean that the sentence fits the crime”.