In the UK anyone can bring a prosecution, but most prosecutions for cruelty to animals are brought following investigations by the RSPCA (or, in Scotland, the SSPCA). You can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. The SSPCA’s number is 03000 999 999. Lines are often very busy, so please bear in mind that these organisations are charities and receive no government money to help it with their work.

You may also visit the RSPCA’s website here which contains useful information, including a cruelty checklist which can be used before reporting suspected cruelty.

If you require immediate assistance – for example, if you see animal cruelty in progress, or a dog that is suffering in a hot car – the best option will usually be to contact the police. In most areas of the UK, you can contact the local police by dialling 111 (or, in an emergency, 999). Please do not accept being fobbed off by being told that you should contact the RSPCA instead. As noted above, the RSPCA is a charity, and it is the police that has legal responsibility for investigating offences against animals, though they often do so in co operation with RSPCA inspectors.

The responsibility for enforcement of the laws protecting wildlife lies with the police service and if you suspect a wildlife crime (for example someone collecting rare birds eggs or birds, illegal taxidermy or bringing endangered species into the country) you can report this either to your local police or to the RSPCA, using the 24 hour cruelty line number (above).

Where the issue relates to interference with wild birds, you could also contact the RSPB whose contact details are available here.

Please do not touch young birds that appear to have been left alone by their parents. It is likely that their parents will return. For further information about what may wildlife laws and what may constitute a wildlife crime click here.

In London, the Wildlife Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police can be contacted on telephone number 020 7230-3641 and Fax number 0207 230 4020. Their website is available here.

You can also provide information about suspected serious crimes anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Pet shops, dog breeding and boarding establishments, and zoos are all licensed and inspected by local authorities. Accordingly, if you have a complaint about such an establishment, please contact the environmental health department of the district or borough council for the relevant area. Local authorities are also responsible for dealing with stray dogs. They employ animal wardens who can intervene to ensure that animals are being cared for properly. They can also take action where pet animals are being used or allowed to cause a danger or a nuisance to other people or animals. The Born Free Foundation and the Captive Animals Protection Society both welcome information from the public about the animal welfare issues in zoos and circuses, whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world.

Information about humane control of pigeons is available from the Pigeon Control Resource Centre (PCRC) -an online resource for issues relating to pigeon control. The information on the site is geared towards solving pigeon control problems by the use of humane and non-lethal control methods. Click here for more information.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) publishes advisory leaflets designed to provide advice to the general public and their specialist wildlife advisors are available to discuss specific problems. DEFRA’s website is available here.

Where your concern relates to an animal welfare issue outside the UK, you may find it helpful to contact an animal welfare organisation in the relevant country. An extensive database of animal welfare organisations overseas can be found here. Cases of cruelty in a particular country may be addressed to the country’s embassy in the UK for forwarding to the relevant local authorities.


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