Further supplementary memorandum submitted
by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
In the course of our giving evidence on 13 October
2004, a small number of matters arose which we think should be
clarified and these are set out below.
We explained that we prosecute as private prosecutors,
exercising a right which belongs to every citizen of England and
Wales. That right is a common law (ie non-statutory) right although
its continuing existence has been confirmed by statute (Prosecution
of Offences Act 1985) and by the Law Commission (Report No 255
1998). Although we use this right to bring prosecutions under
the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (and various other statutes),
the 1911 Act is not the source of the right. If that was the impression
given in our evidence we wish to correct it.
There was some confusion about the definition
of "inspectors" in the Bill. Whilst clause 44 does provide
that local authorities shall have regard to guidance issued by
the Secretary of State when appointing inspectors, clause 54(1)
actually defines inspector as "a person appointed to be an
inspector for the purposes of this Act by the appropriate national
authority or a local authority". It should be clear from
clause 54(1) that the Bill does not refer to RSPCA inspectors
We wish to make clear that local RSPCA branches
have no involvement in prosecutions. All inspectors and prosecutors
are employed by the national RSPCA.
We were asked if we thought offences under the
Bill should be tried in the Crown Court. Our response was that
the most serious offences, namely the fighting offences under
clause 2 of the Bill, should attract higher sentences so as to
be triable either way. By way of further explanation, a triable
either way offence is one that is capable of being tried either
in the magistrates' court or in the Crown Court. So in effect
we would like there to be the option of the most serious offences
being tried in the Crown Court.
We were asked if we were opposed to the use
of all electric fences. Our response was that we were opposed
to their use for training purposes. We would like to make clear
that we are not opposed to their use for farming purposes for
the containment of livestock.
19 October 2004