• Tory MP’s response to Battersea campaign is #NotFunny

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    July 11th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    A few weeks ago, we wrote about Battersea’s #NotFunny campaign, which calls for stronger animal cruelty sentencing. Our Editor Laura Patricia duly emailed her local MP about the issue, making only one addition to the standard letter template provided.

    The Rt Hon Maria Miller, Conservative MP for Basingstoke, replied on 30 June. Here is her response verbatim:

    Thank you for contacting me about sentencing for offences of animal cruelty.
     
    I am pleased that we have a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.
     
    The law, and the penalties for breaking it, were reviewed by the Parliamentary Select Committee for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2012. At that time the Committee did not recommend increasing the maximum sentencing available to the courts. However, I am pleased to say that the previous cap in the fine charges of animal abuse can attract has been removed, and I can also tell you that the Ministry of Justice is now looking at whether there is a case for increasing the penalties further.
     
    The courts must decide what the penalty should be for each individual case, taking into account its circumstances and the guidelines laid down by the Sentencing Council. There has recently been a public consultation into sentencing guidelines for these crimes, which resulted in the Council confirming the removal of the cap on the financial element of the penalty, and clarifying a range of relevant factors that would indicate a more serious offence.
     
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.

    So basically, Ms Miller feels that existing legislation is sufficient; that England’s current maximum prison sentence of six months is enough. Despite the fact that this is the lowest sentence for animal cruelty across the whole of Europe, the United States and Australia. Despite the substantial body of evidence that animal cruelty offenders also commit other serious crimes. Despite 65% public support for an increase in sentencing for animal cruelty.

    It’s laughable. Or at least it would be if innocent animals, like those featured on the #NotFunny homepage, weren’t suffering as a result of the government’s indifference.

    Our editor’s MP doesn’t care, but yours might. Please take the time to send them a letter asking for their support today. 73 MPs have publicly stated their support for the campaign thus far; the remaining 576 can still be persuaded.

    Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledged to increase animal cruelty sentences in their 2017 manifestos
    Read the full Battersea Cruelty Report here

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