Examination of Witnesses

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:11 am on 23rd July 2019.

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Inspector O'Hara:

The majority of offences that I have seen prosecuted by the police are probably not cases that would hit the higher end of the sentencing bracket. They are largely cases involving an animal hoarder—generally somebody who has some mental health problems or another underlying reason for amassing 20 animals in a property. It is that sort of offence that we typically see day in, day out. At the last count, when I ran the figures for the EFRA Committee inquiry report a couple of years ago, broadly speaking—this is from memory—around 85% of the prosecutions were done by the RSPCA and about 15% by police or local authorities, with the burden of that shared by the police.

That typically tends to be my experience. We have not had any tail-docking cases that I can think of in London, but we have ear-cropping mutilations and general animal cruelty rather than organised crime or that more serious end of it. All those cases have been dealt with in a magistrates court so far, but the sentencing in London is fairly consistent because all those cases go to one court, although elsewhere in the country it is probably not so. Most of those cases are dealt with by way of a fine or other ancillary orders rather than imprisonment.