Maximum sentence will be five years for animal cruelty in the UK

House of Commons
House of Commons, Parliament. Photo in public domain.
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The UK is going to enact a law which increases the maximum sentence to 5 years for animal cruelty. The current limit is no more than 51 weeks on my understanding of the law. Although the UK government website says the current maximum sentence is six months. I disagree with this.

The new law is called the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. Once it’s passed, and I’m convinced that it will be, it will carry some of the toughest sentences in Europe for animal cruelty.

In a public consultation last year, 70% of people supported proposals for tougher prison sentences for animal cruelty.

The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said:

“There is no place in this country for animal cruelty. That is why I want to make sure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. Our new Bill sends a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, with the maximum five-year sentence one of the toughest punishments in Europe. I am committed to making our country the best place in the world for the care and protection of animals.”

Michael Gove

Apparently, there were some cases last year in which judges made it clear that they would have had handed down longer sentences had they been available.

“The introduction of this bill is a landmark achievement, which will make a profound difference to dogs and cats in England and Wales. We, and many other rescue centres, see shocking cases of cruelty and neglect come through our gates and there are many more animals that are dumped and don’t even make it off the streets. Research shows that tougher prison sentences act as a deterrent to would-be criminals, so today’s announcement should prevent the suffering of many animals in the future.”

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