The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill was passed on Wednesday 24 June 2020.
The Bill provides further protections to animals and wildlife in Scotland. It amends the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, several pieces of wildlife legislation and the Animal Health Act 1981 to address concerns about current penalties, enforcement powers and the way this legislation operates in practice. The Bill does not create any new offences.
- Increases penalties for animal and wildlife crime
- Increases the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare offences (including attacks on service animals) to a prison sentence of five years, an unlimited fine or both (and makes related procedural changes including the removal of the six month time limit to bring prosecutions).
- Increases the maximum available penalties for the most serious wildlife offences to a prison sentence of five years, an unlimited fine or both.
- Increases the maximum penalty available for other wlidlife offences remaining under summary conviction only, to a prison sentence of 12 months or a fine up to £40,00 or both.
- Introduces fixed penalty notices
- Gives Scottish Ministers a power to make regulations allowing fixed penalty notices to be used in relation to animal health and welfare offences.
- Extends the time allowed for prosecution
- Extends the time allowed for prosecution under summary conviction to six months from which sufficient evidence came to the knowledge of the prosecutor, but no more than three years from the date of the offence.
- Increases the protection for service animals
- Increases the protection for service animals by making it easier to convict people of causing them unnecessary suffering (also known as “Finn’s Law”).
- Gives new powers to “authorised persons”
- Gives authorised persons (including certain inspectors and constables) new powers to transfer, sell, treat or humanely destroy animals that have been taken into possession to alleviate suffering.