APGAW welcomes the commitment of the EFRA Committee to animal welfare and hopes that the report will raise the profile of a range of issues in Parliament. APGAW members have recognised for some time that new legislation, bans and restrictions are not the simple answer and that the real issue lies with enforcement and education.
APGAW believes the report contains a number of recommendations on issues that APGAW has discussed which would improve the present situation and looks forward to the Government's response.
However, legislation is only as good as the enforcement. We agree with the Justice Minister’s comments in the House last week in a debate on sentencing when he referred to the expertise of the RSPCA in their role enforcing animal welfare legislation and the tremendous effort that entails. We recognise that ideally enforcement should be done by statutory agencies but would strongly state that unless ring-fenced funds are designated for enforcement and prosecution to the CPS and Local Government there is a need for the RSPCA to continue prosecuting and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
APGAW Co-Chairman Henry Smith MP states:
“Animal welfare remains an important issue for the public and MPs who all want to see better enforcement of animal laws. APGAW will continue to work with the RSPCA, who are responsible for over 80% of enforcement in this area, to ensure prosecutions are carried out in a transparent and effective manner until and unless the Government provides the funds to the CPS to prosecute.”
APGAW Officer Lord Trees said “Ideally, the functions of investigation and prosecution should be done by different bodies but the RSPCA’s current work on enforcement and prosecution of the Animal Welfare Act fulfils a need and is hugely valued. It is important that any consideration of removing their powers to prosecute is only done once adequate funds are set aside and expertise is identified within the CPS to carry out animal welfare prosecutions”.