Did you know:

The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 is only six months in prison in England and Wales and just 12 months in Scotland.

In France it’s two years. In German it’s three it’s five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland

· In 2015, just 933 people were convicted of animal cruelty in England and Wales despite the RSPCA investigating over 149,000 reports of animal cruelty and neglect in one single year (2016).

· The average length of sentence for an animal cruelty conviction in 2015 was 3.3 months, against an absolute maximum of six months in 2015.

All of this leads me to ask, what good will Michael Gove’s promise to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty be if judges are reluctant to use the full weight of their sentencing powers and such small numbers of convictions are being obtained against the massive number of cruelty investigations being carried out by the RSPCA?

Please don’t misunderstand me. Mr Gove’s promise to increase maximum sentences is 100% a good move. But it alone won’t see us firmly tackle the problem.

Animal abusers are repugnant to most members of society. Sending them to prison for substantial amounts of time seems entirely appropriate and commensurate with the levels of disgust society views their crimes.

Once the maximum sentence increase becomes law, the battle is not over. Animal abusers need to feel the full weight of the law and we must hope that judges are ready and willing, now they are enabled, to send these people to jail.

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