Firstly, a big thank you to the MPs that took part in the debate yesterday and to all of those that worked hard to get people to sign the petitions and indeed those of you that signed the petitions and wrote to your MPs whether they attended or not.
We do personally believe that we are now moving towards getting the change that we so desperately need.
As we said before if we could get from this debate, at minimum a review by the Sentencing Council then we would be on our way. We may not have got exactly that but something is stirring.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Victoria Prentis said in her response “We do not currently think that the creation of a specific offence for pet theft, with a two-year custodial penalty, would really help much. We think the way to go is to continue the discussions that I know my hon. Friend (Tom Hunt) is already undertaking on sentencing guidelines. To that end, the Government are very willing to work with interested parties, including the police and animal welfare organisations. We are keen to act in this area, and I look forward to taking that forward with Members from across the House.”
and Tom Hunt in closing said “While I was in lockdown I had a virtual meeting with my Right Hon. and learned friend the Lord Chancellor which was positive”
All of this makes us believe that the law will be changed but pressure must be kept on all parties.
Although many of us may be impatient for this change, we must be patient as it takes time for new legislation to be implemented.
Meanwhile, on Friday, 22 October’20, there will be a reading of the private Member’s Bill, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing)Bill. Mrs Prentis said “This bill if passed – I very much hope it will be, and the Government are 100% committed behind it – will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ imprisonment to five years” We know that dog theft causes anxiety in the dog which is cruelty so hopefully this new legislation can act as some form of deterrent until the reclassification of pet theft is finalised.
I do believe the future will be bright for our animal welfare.
Finally we would like to acknowledge the tremendous work my fellow members of the Stolen & Missing Pets Alliance including our patrons and associate members have done over the years to get us this far.
Here is the Hansard transcript:- https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-10-19/debates/7DB00823-5B7F-452D-8F36-B857FEDE682B/PetTheft
Watch the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRtSMPH_zuc
Read the research: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cdp-2020-0111/