Luke's letter to the Environment Secretary
  • Luke Pollard has written to the Environment Secretary, to demand he raises the sentences for people convicted of animal cruelty from six months to five years
  • There is already legislation on the table to do this, but there is a lack of political will from the government
  • There has been an increase of incidents of animal cruelty over lockdown

Two weeks ago, Luke wrote to the environment secretary, George Eustice, to make a simple request to prevent cruelty to animals.

There has been a sharp increase in offences during lockdown and we urgently need to increase prison sentences.

There is a Private Members Bill in Parliament to raise sentences for people convicted of animal cruelty. It has cross-party support, but ministers are sitting on it. All George Eustice has to do is bring it forward, and MPs will swiftly pass it so it becomes law.

In a response to the request from leading animal welfare groups like the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Dogs Trust, IFAW and the League Against Cruel Sports and Labour, instead of bringing it forward he pushed it back, kicking it into the long grass.

If the bill isn’t passed before the next Queen’s Speech, due in the autumn, it will fall. And the three year saga of this bill will continue into a fourth year.

Currently sentences for those convicted of animal cruelty are set at a maximum of six months. Animal charities, Labour, the Conservative backbenches, and even the Conservative manifesto support raising this to five years.

The Private Member’s Bill would increase sentences – but with all the confusion around parliamentary procedures at the moment, it’s unlikely this will see the light of day.

The government just needs to take control of it and give it the proper parliamentary time to make it happen. Ministers have refused to act with the urgency that is required to safeguard animals from harm.

The Scottish Parliament passed similar legislation on this just last week. Far from being world leading, England is now falling behind even other parts of the UK.

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