Animal Cruelty Sentencing

Currently, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 individuals convicted of animal cruelty can be sentenced to a term not exceeding 51 weeks imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, as magistrates are unable to sentence to more than six months imprisonment, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales recommends a Band A fine, starting at 50 percent of the individual's weekly salary up to 26 weeks custody.

In practice, many offenders are given suspended sentences and fines in the hundreds of pounds, despite the law allowing a lot more. Over the last 12 months, some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty have received sentences members of the public have considered too lenient.

The RSPCA has long campaigned for an increase to the maximum sentence available for those convicted of animal abuse. In October 2017, the UK Government confirmed that an increase from six months imprisonment, to five years would be made for England.

On 29 April 2021, the UK passed the Animal Welfare (Sentencing Bill), which increases the maximum sentence for cruelty cases to five years. RSPCA Cymru has welcomed the Welsh Government's commitment to bring forward an LCM on this matter in Wales - and we hope to see this done early into the Sixth Senedd.