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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will undertake a review of the effectiveness of prosecutions under the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988; what steps the Government is taking to ensure the implementation of adequate protections for tethered horses; and if he will make a statement.
The Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988 was repealed by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”) and its provisions replaced with section 9 of the 2006 Act. This introduces a duty on people to ensure the welfare needs of animals for which they are responsible. Local authorities, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the police all have powers of entry under the 2006 Act and can investigate allegations of poor welfare and take enforcement action where necessary. Furthermore, under the 2006 Act anyone is able to investigate allegations of poor welfare and take forward prosecutions. It is on this basis that the RSPCA successfully prosecute 800 to 1,000 people each year, including in relation to equines and equine tethering.
In addition, the 2006 Act is backed up by the statutory 'Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids' which has a specific Annex dedicated to tethering. RSPCA inspectors will use the code when investigating horse welfare incidents, such as inappropriate tethering, to check compliance. Although it is not an offence to breach the code, it can be used as evidence in court, for example if a case for inappropriate horse tethering was brought against the owner.
We agree that more can be done to spread best practice amongst horse owners. On this basis, I recently hosted a horse tethering roundtable with key stakeholders including horse welfare groups, local authorities and the RSPCA. Following this we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to tackle this important issue.