I have just supported the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home campaign calling for five-year sentences for animal cruelty offences.
Currently, the maximum sentence for such offences in England and Wales is just six months imprisonment, a ban from keeping animals and a fine. In Scotland, the maximum prison term is just one year.
These are the highest sentences the courts can give, even in the worst cases of starving, beating or killing animals which shock the public.
In comparison, the maximum custodial sentence for fly-tipping is five years and theft is seven years’ imprisonment.
It’s clear the current maximum sentence for animal cruelty is inadequate, and out of step with sentencing for other crimes.
As Battersea’s new report shows, England and Wales has the lowest sentence across 100 jurisdictions, including Europe, the United States, Australia and many other countries. Battersea found that 93 per cent of these jurisdictions provide for a sentence of one year or more, 54 per cent can impose a prison sentence of three years or more, and 34 per cent of jurisdictions can sentence offenders to five years or more in prison.
Battersea therefore believes that the maximum sentence should be increased to five years.
Increasing the sentence will help protect animals by deterring perpetrators from committing such criminal offences.
Academic studies have found that animal cruelty offenders are five times more likely to also commit acts of violence.
Therefore, the courts urgently need the flexibility to treat the worst cases of animal cruelty more seriously.
Please show your support by viewing www.notfunny.battersea.org.uk and taking action, it only takes a few minutes.
Now is the time to make the punishment fit the crime and to give courts the flexibility to punish animal cruelty properly.