10 May 2022
Consultation for sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty offences published
The Sentencing Council is consulting on revised sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty offences following changes introduced by the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021.
The proposed changes include a new guideline for the most serious animal cruelty offences, including tail docking and animal fighting, after the maximum penalty was changed by Parliament from six months’ to five years’ custody. These offences are now eligible to be tried in both magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court to reflect the new maximum penalty.
The Council is also proposing changes to the existing sentencing guideline for the offence of a breach of duty of person responsible for animal welfare to ensure the guideline is specific to the circumstances of offending likely to fall under section 9 of the Act. This guideline will continue to apply to magistrates’ courts only because the maximum penalty for this offence has not changed and remains within magistrates’ sentencing powers.