89.The core question this inquiry has faced is whether the current system of significant self- regulation is successfully upholding greyhound welfare. The appropriate level of regulation needs to balance the demands and interests of a commercially viable sport, the hobbyist enthusiast and high welfare standards.
90.At the start of the report we identified two key questions relating to the current legislation: whether it was fully comprehensive and whether the industry could go beyond minimum statutory guidelines.
91.On balance the five years since the introduction of the 2010 Regulations have not witnessed the proactive approach to welfare that would instil confidence. We are disappointed that in general there is little evidence of GBGB going beyond the mandatory requirements to drive up standards in welfare. Aside from the new injury database, to be rolled out throughout 2016–17, there are few other examples of the introduction of higher standards.
92.Without open and transparent data it is difficult to assess how well different aspects of greyhound welfare are being met. In today’s world data is more freely available than any time in the past. The industry’s reluctance to share data is not itself evidence of failings, but its absence has allowed deep-rooted suspicions to flourish. The industry could demonstrate its own commitment in this regard by adopting a more open attitude towards publication of the welfare-related data that it already records, thus encouraging trust in its continued self-regulation.
93.The 2010 Regulations applied the same minimum welfare standards to both GBGB and independent tracks but there remain significant inconsistencies in the welfare standards experienced by greyhounds racing in either of the two track systems. An independent regulator could conceivably enforce consistent and high welfare standards across both track systems, but this would come at significant cost.
94.We have not seen evidence of critical failings that warrant the creation of an independent regulator at this point. We invite the industry to exhibit its ability to respond positively to our recommendations in the interests of both greyhounds and continued self-regulation.
95.We recommend a probationary period of two years continued self-regulation to allow the industry to respond to our proposals. It is vital that the industry demonstrates capacity to initiate welfare reform without legislative compulsion if it wants to stay self-regulated.
Prepared 22 February 2016