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Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

10 May 2021


A government consultation on animal welfare sentencing in 2017 had an enormous response showing strong public support for tougher legislation. These measures were widely supported by welfare charities such as The British Horse Society and the RSPCA. The private members bill was introduced by Chris Loder MP in February of 2020.

On the 29 April 2021, the new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent and has been passed into law. The bill has received great praise for increasing the maximum prison sentence from 6 months to 5 years. Not only that, but offenders can also now receive an unlimited fine, sending a very clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated. Courts will be able to use the new sentences from 29 June 2021 onwards.

The new Act covers England and once the Welsh Parliament (Senedd) passes a legislative consent motion, which is supported by the Welsh Government, it will also cover Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland already have existing legislation. Gemma Stanford, Director of Welfare said; “We hugely welcome The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act. This is a major step forward and we hope the tougher sentences will act as a deterrent to reduce despicable acts of cruelty and neglect. Any form of animal cruelty is unacceptable, and this review of sentencing has been long overdue”.


Emaciated Pony


If you have any concerns for the welfare of an equine, contact BHS Welfare on 02476 840517* or email

*Calls may be recorded for monitoring purposes

Further Information:

Reporting a Horse Welfare Concern

What is a Welfare Concern?

Maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty raised to five years


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