Prison reform trust response to draft animal welfare sentencing and recognition of sentience bill

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Prison Reform Trust
Prison Reform Trust
Date of publication
1 January 2018
Offenders, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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The Prison Reform Trust have chosen to focus on questions 17 and 18, the proposal to increase the maximum penalty for specified animal welfare offences from six months to five years’ imprisonment.

They do not deny the severity of some of the serious offences for which people have been convicted. However, there is no evidence of an appetite among sentencers for such a large increase in the maximum sentence available for animal welfare offences. Nor is there any evidence that it will reduce the number of animal cruelty offences or act as an effective deterrent. Furthermore, there is a real risk that such a move will drag up sentence lengths for people convicted of less serious offences in this category, and also create pressure to increase sentence lengths for separate but comparable offences. This is at a time when sentence lengths overall have been increasing, placing significant pressure on an overcrowded and under resourced prison system.

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