Just had clarification from the Minister, pet theft is now definitely a category two or three crime.
We appear to have uncovered a very important and significant change to pet theft sentencing that no one else appeared to have known about – including most – if not all – of the legal profession!
So now our mission is make sure the Government clearly communicates this – so that the criminals hear about it, too!
No point aiming to get tough on pet crime and not telling anyone – we think the judges and police will probably be as surprised as we were!
So what a very, very good job we had that debate.
Maybe the second reading of Ross Thomson MPs Pet Theft Reform bill will go even further and get the law to clearly state the serious consequences of this heinous crime.
We want tougher sentencing as a meaningful deterrent – we want pets to become too hot to handle. Looks like we have a way of doing that now!
WHAT DOES CATEGORY 2 or 3 MEAN?
John Cooper was sitting next to me for the debate and he tried very hard to be given the chance to correct minister George Eustace – who in summing up the debate completely misquoted the sentencing guidelines for Pet Theft.
We would LOVE pet theft to be a category two crime, but it is not.
Pet theft presently will either fall into category 3 or 4 depending on the price of the pet.
Category 1: “Very high value goods (monetary value of goods stolen £100k and above) or High value with significant additional harm to the victim or others – sentence guide from 25 weeks to 6 years in custody dependent on culpability.
Category 2: “High value goods (monetary value of good stolen £10k – £100k or no significant additional harm to the victim or others – sentence guide from sentence guide Low level community order to 3.5 years in custody dependent on culpability.”
Category 3: Medium value goods stolen (£500 to £10,000) and no significant additional harm or Low value with significant additional harm to the victim or others – sentence guide from a fine to 2 years in custody dependent on culpability
Category 4: Low value goods stolen (up to £500) and little or no significant additional harm to the victim or others – sentence guide from a fine to 36 weeks in custody dependent on culpability
70% in our survey wanted all pet theft added to category 1 regardless of purchase price. Pets are priceless.
Our survey showed 94% of people unhappy with the current sentencing categories allocated to pet theft.
Before that it had been such a well informed debate. Wasn’t a slip of the tongue, we talked to him afterwards and he was told pet theft was a category 2 or 3 offence by his advisors.
As we said at the time, “we’d take that!”
“It is important to remember that in 2016, the independent Sentencing Council updated its sentencing guidelines for theft offences. The new guidelines acknowledge that theft that causes emotional distress to the victim or where the item stolen is of a substantial value, regardless of the monetary worth, will indicate a higher level of seriousness and the offender should be sentenced accordingly. In the context of the theft of pets, my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford is right that although the Theft Act provides for a maximum sentence of seven years, there is scant evidence of that being used.
“Our reading of the current guidance, which was issued in 2016, is that in applying that guidance, the theft of a pet should be considered as either a category two or a category three offence. The custodial sentence is two years for a category two offence and one year for a category three. My hon. Friend is right that, applying our interpretation of the most recent guidance, a seven-year maximum penalty is largely theoretical for pet theft unless there are other aggravating circumstances. But as a general rule, category two or three would seem to be an appropriate sentence.
“I hope that I have been able to reassure Members of the seriousness with which we take this issue. The Government have demonstrated in just the last six months that we are willing to change the law wherever necessary. Although at the moment the Government are not convinced that we need to change the law, I want to give three undertakings. First, let us use this debate to be absolutely clear that the Government interpret the latest guidance from the Sentencing Council that the theft of a pet should generally be treated as a category two or three offence.”
Beverley Cuddy, Sampa Patron, Dogs Today Magazine, #AnimalHero