Animal cruelty to earn tougher sentences
Environment Secretary Michael Gove will announce proposals to punish cruelty to animals with longer sentences of up to five years.
Britain’s current maximum jail term for the offence – six months – is one of the lowest in Europe.
Mr Gove said last night: "We are a nation of animal lovers and I want to ensure that those who commit the most shocking cruelty to animals face suitably tough punishments.
"These plans will give courts the tools they have requested to deal with the most abhorrent acts."
Gove will announce the plans in his Tory conference speech on Monday, and the policy will be put forward in more detail during the winter.
Defra officials have discussed the plans with the Ministry of Justice, which has responsibility for setting policy. Primary legislation will be required to make the change, but it is thought to have support throughout the Commons.
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “We are thrilled that the Government has responded to calls from the RSPCA and members of the public to toughen up sentences for the worst animal abusers."
He added "We now feel that those who commit these acts will soon be receiving sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crime and hope this will act as a real deterrent against cruelty and neglect.