Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill

Explanatory Notes


Clause 1: Use of wild animals in a travelling circus

8 Subsection (1) sets out the central prohibition in the Bill which provides that circus operators are no longer allowed to use wild animals in their travelling circus in England.

9 Subsection (2) clarifies that "use" of a wild animal in a circus extends to a performance by the animal and any exhibition of a wild animal as part of the circus. Performance would include a parade of animals in the ring while exhibition would extend to the display of a lion in a cage.

10 Subsection (3) establishes that a circus operator is guilty of an offence if that person uses a wild animal in a travelling circus in England. A person guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of any amount.

11 Subsection (4) provides for individual liability in some cases where there is also corporate liability.

12 Subsection (5) contains definitions of expressions used in the Bill. A "circus operator" is defined as the owner of the circus or any other person with overall responsibility for the operation of the circus except that if no such person is present in the United Kingdom the "circus operator" will be the person in the United Kingdom who has ultimate responsibility for the operation of the circus. "Travelling circus" takes its ordinary meaning.

Clause 3: Consequential amendment

13 Clause 3 makes a consequential amendment to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976; in order to remove the current exemption from the Act in section 5(2) for a dangerous wild animal kept in a circus in England. This exemption will no longer be required following introduction of the ban.

Clause 4: Extent, commencement and short title

14 This clause provides that the Bill will come into force on 1 December 2018.

Schedule- Enforcement Powers

15 Clause 2 and the Schedule make provision for the appointment of inspectors and specifies the powers and duties of those inspectors when exercising powers of entry, inspection or search under the Bill.

16 Paragraph 1 gives a power to the Secretary of State to appoint persons as inspectors for the purposes of the Bill.

17 Paragraph 2 confers a power to enter premises, other than premises used only as a dwelling, to carry out the functions set out in this Schedule. The inspector must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence under clause 1 is being, has been or is about to be committed on the premises or that evidence of the commission of such an offence may be found there.

18 Paragraph 3 provides that a justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorising an inspector to enter premises used as a dwelling to search for evidence of an offence. It sets out the matters that must be satisfied before a warrant may be granted.

19 Paragraph 4 requires an inspector, on request, to produce evidence of identity before exercising the power of entry and to state for what purpose the power is being exercised. If entry is under a warrant, the inspector is required to supply a copy of the warrant or to leave such a copy on the premises.

20 Paragraph 5 requires an inspector to exercise a power of entry at a reasonable time unless the officer believes that, by waiting for that reasonable time, the purpose for requiring entry and inspection may be thwarted.

21 Paragraph 6 allows an inspector to use reasonable force where necessary to exercise a power of entry and to take on to the premises up to two other persons and anything necessary (including equipment and materials) to assist them in their duties. The assistants could include specialists, for example a zoological specialist to help identify animals.

22 Paragraph 7 outlines the powers of inspection, search and seizure available to an inspector when exercising a power of entry under paragraph 2 or 3. This paragraph does not include a power to seize a wild animal. Where any item has been seized under paragraph 7(k), paragraph 9(2) requires the inspector or their assistant, on request, to provide a record of the item seized to whoever had possession or control of the item before it was seized.

23 Paragraph 7(d) imposes an obligation on any person on the premises to give reasonable assistance to the inspector. This obligation may be needed, for example, to enable access to an animal cage, handle an animal (to be able to take samples) or to move a vehicle.

24 The power provided by paragraph 8 enables any person brought to the premises by the inspector to exercise the inspector’s powers under paragraph 7, but only under the inspector’s direct supervision.

25 Paragraph 10 creates an offence of failing to comply with a requirement reasonably made by an inspector, or preventing any other person from so doing, or intentionally obstructing an inspector when the inspector is carrying out their duties under the Bill. The offence also applies to the assistants of inspectors. This is a summary offence for which the penalty is a fine of any amount.

26 Paragraph 11 protects inspectors and their assistants from liability in any civil and criminal proceedings for anything done or not done as a result of carrying out their duties under the Bill. This exemption from liability does not apply where an inspector or their assistant acts in bad faith or if there were no reasonable grounds to act in such manner.


Prepared 20th February 2017