Maximum jail term for animal cruelty raised to five years

Animal welfare charities welcome change in law that comes into effect today after receiving Royal Assent.

The maximum jail term for being cruel to animals in Scotland is now five years.

The new law comes into effect today after receiving Royal Assent – the process whereby the Queen formally approves a bill to become an Act of Parliament.

MSPs at Holyrood voted unanimously last month in favour of the Scottish Government’s change in law under the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill.

People found guilty of committing animal cruelty crimes can now be sentenced to five years in jail. The previous maximum sentence for such crimes was 12 months.

Animal welfare charity Battersea, which has campaigned for a change in the law for years, welcomed today’s news.

Battersea’s Chief Executive, Claire Horton CBE, said: “This is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s been a very long journey to make the punishment fit the crime – it will act as a proper deterrent and protect animals from those who would abuse and mistreat them.”

“The Scottish Government has now delivered their promise on tackling animal cruelty. It is now time Westminster stopped delaying and followed suit.”

Animal cruelty penalties in Scotland are now in line with many other European countries.

In England and Wales, however, where the maximum punishment is the lowest in Europe at just six months.

Battersea has been calling on the Government in England and Wales to follow Scotland’s example and progress this much-needed legislation.

Battersea’s report, Sentencing for Animal Cruelty in Scotland, can be found here.

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