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We're reviewing our prosecutor role to focus on frontline cruelty - RSPCA

We've announced we're exploring the transfer of our animal welfare prosecuting role to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to focus on our frontline work rescuing and caring for animals and investigating cruelty.

As part of our new ten-year strategy, Together for Animal Welfare, we've considered where we want to be in 2030 and beyond following important legislative and societal changes.

Crucially, one of our flagship campaigns to introduce tougher sentences for animal abusers, which we anticipate will come into force in both England and Wales this year, means that those inflicting cruelty and suffering on animals face potentially longer jail terms of up to five years. This places a big responsibility on us.

This isn't a step back from prosecutions

Our Chief Executive, Chris Sherwood, said: "We're proud of our history bringing animal abusers to justice and for many years we've been the right people to do this vital work. However, the world has changed and we have to change with it. We're pleased that this year could see one of our hard-fought campaigns to raise the maximum penalty for animal abuse from six months to five years become reality, but this also means a big change in the way cases are prosecuted and sentenced. Some of these cases will now move to crown courts and those carrying out the worst abuse could face lengthy jail terms. This places a huge responsibility on a charity's shoulders. We believe this responsibility should sit with the Crown Prosecution Service, which is a statutory public body with regulatory oversight. Let me be clear that we wouldn't be stepping back from prosecutions, only from our role as the prosecutor. Our inspectors would still be rescuing, investigating and collecting evidence of cruelty and abuse and seeking to hand this over to the CPS. We believe that there may be a better way to ensure animals get the justice they deserve by bringing together our expertise in investigations with the CPS' skills and resources. We'd like to reassure the public that we will not step back from the role of prosecuting until we're assured that the CPS has the commitment, the resources, and the expertise to make sure that animals continue to get the justice they deserve."

Look at the RSPCA's new Together for Animal Welfare strategy here.

Posted on: 29 January 2021

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