We as a team are extremely upset by the Minister, RT HON Robert Buckland’s response to the Petitions Committee’s letter. ‘If the Theft Act is working why are we seeing such a huge increase in dog theft? We have provided facts and figures on pet theft and given clear advice on how this cruel, heartless crime could be halted, simply by an amendment to the 1968 Theft Act by way of a separate definition for ‘domestic pets’ and introducing a minimum 2 year custodial sentence. At present thieves get a minimum of a £200 – £250 fine, the Theft of a pet is seen as ‘property’ theft and therefore it is low-risk, with high-rewards.
The Minister has used no thought in looking at this petition, he has simply churned out the usual template which any MP will send you when you write to them. Sad! This response gives us the impression that he has not or his side kicks, looked at all the information sent to him by the Petitions Committee.
In the Pet Theft debate on 2nd July 2018, the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, George Eustice accepted that “applying our (the Government’s) interpretation of the most recent guidance, a seven-year maximum penalty is largely theoretical for pet theft unless there are other aggravating circumstances.” and for Government to continue to use this penalty as a headline is misleading the public as to how pet theft is treated by the law. This was covered by our legal advisor Professor John Cooper QC in our virtual debate.
The Minister is correct in one aspect, the Theft Act is working but sadly it’s working in the pet thieves favour! Our petition is open until the 4th September 2020. Please help us reach another 100,000 signatures to Make pet theft crime a specific offence with a minimum custodial sentences:- https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300071
UPDATE: The Petitions Committee write to the justice minister after the #PetTheftReform virtual debate
You recently signed the petition “Pet Theft Reform: Amend animal welfare law to make pet theft a specific offence.”:
The Petitions Committee has written to Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice, calling on the Government to make pet theft a specific criminal offence. The Petitions Committee is calling for the Government to ensure the value of pets is fully recognised in the law, and that sentencing options available to the court act as a real deterrent for those who may commit a crime that can have a devastating impact on pet owners and families.
This follows a discussion with Tom Hunt MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, and several petitioners and experts.
Watch the video of the discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOKQOIPVIpM
The letter calls for the Government to bring forward legislation, by amending either the Theft Act or the Animal Welfare Act, to supplement existing legislation in place to protect animals. This includes Finn’s Law to ensure service animals are protected and Lucy’s Law to crack down on puppy farming, which both were subjects of successful petitions on the issue.
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament