11 April 2017
The RSPCA investigated more than 400 allegations of animal cruelty per day in 2016 - a rise of nearly 5% compared to the previous 12 months.
Figures recently released show the charity looked into 149,604 complaints compared to 143,004 in 2015, but the number of successful prosecutions fell more than 6% to 744, already a very low percentage of the cases severe enough for people to raise their concerns. This compares to the 1,371 cases that resulted in a conviction for animal welfare crimes in 2013, a fall of nearly 50% in three years.
One of the factors causing this drop in convictions are the cuts to funding for Wildlife Crime Units and Local Authority Dog Wardens, so there is now a reliance on the RSPCA and other smaller animal welfare organisations to deal with reports. These organisations have much less authority to take immediate action and are dependent on donations and a mostly voluntary workforce.
Reports of cruelty and harm included animals in domestic and commercial premises, and in their natural habitats. Illegal badger baiting and the filming on a mobile phone of a dog being repeatedly thrown down stairs and headbutted were amongst the many horrific incidents about which they received calls.
The Green Party of England and Wales recently added a new policy to their already robust Animal Rights policies which would see a Green government create a national register, similar to the ViSOR database, of convicted animal-cruelty offenders. The register would work in conjunction with a compulsory licensing system for those keeping or working with animals. This would also support the introduction of local Animal Rights Officers in all Local Authorities and the strengthening of mandatory Wildlife Crime Units in every police force.