Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Plans for tougher court sentencing guidance on animal cruelty cases

Courts will be given powers to hand out tougher punishments for animal cruelty crimes under sentencing guideline proposals (Jacob King/PA)
Courts will be given powers to hand out tougher punishments for animal cruelty crimes under sentencing guideline proposals (Jacob King/PA)

Courts will be given powers to hand out tougher punishments for animal cruelty crimes under sentencing guideline proposals.

The Sentencing Council wants to introduce new guidance for magistrates and judges on how to sentence the most serious offences, such as causing unnecessary suffering, tail docking and animal fighting, after Parliament raised the maximum penalty for the crimes from six months to up to five years in jail.

The move will reflect changes brought in by the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 and are under consultation until August.

Sentencing Council member Judge Rosa Dean said: “Animal cruelty is a serious offence and can cause great distress to animals who have been ill-treated or neglected or even forced to fight each other for entertainment.

“Animals are not able to defend themselves or draw attention to their suffering, and it is important that courts have the powers to deliver appropriate sentences to offenders who commit these crimes.”

Under the proposed changes for the most serious offences, “sadistic or extreme cases or those carried out in the context of commercial or organised criminal activity” will be assessed at the “highest culpability”.

Cases involving multiple incidents, or the use of significant force will also increase an offender’s culpability, the Council said.

Where an offender’s actions have caused an animal to die or sustain life-threatening injuries, or have caused substantial pain or suffering, this may also attract a higher sentence than previously.

Where a case affects a significant number of animals, involves images of the cruelty being shared on social media, or is committed in the presence of children, these will now be treated as aggravating factors.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “We welcome this consultation following the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act which was finally brought into law last year, following years of campaigning.

“We’re pleased that the Council is seeking views on the guidelines and that animals will soon have better protection from those who hurt them and exploit them.”