Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced plans to increase maximum sentences for cruelty to animals in England from six months to five years. Having more punitive sentences at their disposal will, according to DEFRA, allow the courts to better deal with extremely shocking cases of animal cruelty.
The announcement has been welcomed by animal protection charities, including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which launched a campaign to increase sentences to five years earlier this year. David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said:
“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.”
It is expected that legislation which will bring the increase into effect will be introduced at the start of next year.