Mike Gapes, Member of Parliament for Ilford South, has joined growing calls for tougher penalties for animal abuse and action to be taken to enforce bans on offenders from keeping animals.
Attending the League Against Cruel Sports’ Annual Reception in Westminster on Wednesday (19th July 2017), Mike heard how sentences are currently inadequate and outdated, remaining unchanged for over a hundred years and therefore failing to reflect the horrific cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of barbaric ‘sports’ such as dog fighting.
England and Wales are lagging behind when it comes to punishing people who abuse animals, and so the League is calling for maximum sentences to be increased from the current maximum of six months to the more appropriate ceiling of five years. This would bring the law in line with much of the rest of Europe and Northern Ireland, and would better reflect the seriousness of the abuse involved.
Mike Gapes MP said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the League’s campaign for tougher sentences for animal abuse. As League investigations have shown, dog fighting is a horrific crime involving immense cruelty, and this needs to be better reflected in the penalties handed to perpetrators. The recent election has demonstrated that the public care deeply about animal welfare and want to ensure that animals are properly protected. Sentences need to be increased so that they act as a genuine deterrent.”
Speakers at the event also highlighted the need for a national register of convicted animal abusers to help prevent people banned from keeping animals from flouting the law. No central record of such banning orders is currently kept, potentially leaving offenders free to continue to abuse animals.
Pressure for change has been building recently, both among MPs and the public, with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last year recommending that the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences be increased, MPs backing calls for action during backbench Parliamentary debates, and signatures to the League’s petition calling for stronger penalties for dog fighting offences reaching over 90,000 signatures to date.