‘League responds to wildlife law consultation’

Posted on December 19, 2012

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Today (19th December), the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) posted a news item on their web-site titled ‘League responds to wildlife law consultation’.

‘… The Law Commission has recently commenced a review of wildlife law in England and Wales. Whilst we see this as an exciting opportunity, it also raises the possibility of a reduction of protection in certain areas. In principle, the League welcomes the review, as it can only be a good thing that old complex laws will be simplified and made easier to understand. If the law is confusing then it’s easier for criminals to escape conviction.

One of our concerns is that the Law Commission is unable to extend legislation and can merely consolidate existing laws. This seems to us to be a missed opportunity. The protection given to wildlife falls far short of that given to domestic or farmed animals and we have long campaigned for a general protection from cruelty to be legislated for all animals, including those in the wild. Unfortunately this is not going to be an outcome of this review, as such a change would need to be a parliamentary one.

An equally big, if not far greater concern, is that in the ethos of consolidation, some established offences are under review, such as entering a dog into a badger sett and the element of reckless behaviour under the Protection of Badgers Act. These are matters the League sees as pivotal. The issue arises as badger protection is what can best be described as gold standard legislation – it goes above and beyond that required by European Law. The League has strongly argued that, if the issue is consistency, protection levels for all wild animals should be increased.  However, the counter argument expresses that more stringent legislation would be too burdensome. This is something we have stressed as being non negotiable in our response to the review, as well as in private meetings. Removing such offences would send an untenable signal to wild animal offenders.

There is also a suggestion that the criminal law should make way for a civil sanction approach. The League is utterly opposed to this as there is no evidence to suggest that civil sanctions would have any deterrent effect. Those who commit wildlife crime offences are criminals and must be treated in the same way as all other criminals and not merely sent a warning letter and told not to do it again. Effective criminal sanctions are the only way forward and we are calling on greater police enforcement and more prosecution, not less.

The real impact will be in the parliamentary process when any draft Bill is amended and debated by MPs. This is when we and our supporters need to be ready to remind MPs that they must support the League and protect wild animals properly. The Hunting Act 2004 is not a part of the Commission’s review but we are alert to the risk that amendments may be made to change or even repeal the Act in this process. It is not acceptable to allow hard fought legislation to be abandoned through a desire to reduce regulation or to save money by reducing the number of wildlife cases taken to court. The League will be campaigning vigorously to defend the protection that we have and ensure that the draft legislation is robust enough to allow for future improvements to animal welfare.

Read the item at www.league.org.uk/news/1096/-League-Responds-To-Wildlife-Law-Consultation-

Please support the League Against Cruel Sports and all their campaigns.

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