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Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

First published:
12 December 2017
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The way we treat animals is an important reflection of the values of our society. Animals should be protected from pain, injury, fear and distress, and those who commit the worst acts of animal of cruelty should face tough punishments.

I noted with interest the UK Government’s announcement to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in England to five years. Currently the maximum sentence in England and Wales for an offence committed under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is six months, in addition to unlimited fine and ban.

We agree an increase to five years’ imprisonment should be introduced to allow the Courts to impose appropriate sentences on those who commit the worst acts of animal cruelty.

The Welsh Government has decided maintaining a comparative sentencing regime across England and Wales is important and will ensure clarity for enforcement agencies, the Courts and the public alike. Therefore, I have written to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State, Defra, on the issue of introducing legislation on an England and Wales basis.
The move will bring maximum sentences for animal cruelty in England and Wales into line with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Scottish Government has also committed to increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty offences to five years’ imprisonment.

The UK Government has today published a draft Bill which would increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in England and Wales to five years.

The draft Bill also sets out the Government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”. We fully agree animals are sentient beings and this will make clear, beyond any doubt, our position on this matter.

Officials from England and Wales are now working together on the introduction of this important Bill which underlines our commitment to continue improving standards of animal health and welfare in Wales. A copy of the draft Bill can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-animal-welfare-sentencing-and-recognition-of-sentience-bill-2017

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