Steve joins calls for tougher penalties for animal abusers

Stephen Pound MP has joined growing calls for tougher penalties for animal abuse and action to be taken to enforce bans on offenders from keeping animals.

Attending the League Against Cruel Sports’ Annual Reception in Westminster on Wednesday, Mr Pound heard how sentences are currently inadequate and outdated, remaining unchanged for over a hundred years and therefore failing to reflect the horrific cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of barbaric ‘sports’ such as dog fighting.

England and Wales are lagging behind when it comes to punishing people who abuse animals, and so the League is calling for maximum sentences to be increased from the current maximum of six months to the more appropriate ceiling of five years. This would bring the law in line with much of the rest of Europe and Northern Ireland, and would better reflect the seriousness of the abuse involved.

Stephen Pound said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the League’s campaign for tougher sentences for animal abuse. As League investigations have shown, dog fighting is a horrific crime involving immense cruelty, and this needs to be better reflected in the penalties handed to perpetrators. The recent election has demonstrated that the public care deeply about animal welfare and want to ensure that animals are properly protected. Sentences need to be increased so that they act as a genuine deterrent.”

Speakers at the event also highlighted the need for a national register of convicted animal abusers to help prevent people banned from keeping animals from flouting the law. No central record of such banning orders is currently kept, potentially leaving offenders free to continue to abuse animals.

Pressure for change has been building recently, both among MPs and the public, with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last year recommending that the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences be increased, MPs backing calls for action during backbench Parliamentary debates, and signatures to the League’s petition calling for stronger penalties for dog fighting offences reaching over 90,000 signatures to date.

Speaking at the reception, conservationist and League President Bill Oddie said:

“I often hear that we are a nation of animal lovers, but are we really? If so, why are there cruel sports like hunting and dog fighting still taking place, which are positively medieval? Why does animal abuse like dog fighting still carry such a pitiful maximum sentence and why is there no central record of individuals banned from keeping animals? Six months maximum for causing horrific pain and suffering but five years in prison for fly tipping.

“Dogs are perhaps the most beloved and valued animal on earth. Humans look after them, and they look after humans. They represent companionship, affection and loyalty. I can think of few evils so perverted – and cruel – as dog fighting. This is humanity at its worst and the punishments perpetrators face must be tougher”

Philippa King, Chief Operating Officer at the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“Current maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences, including dog fighting are both inadequate and incredibly outdated. Dog fighting remains a significant animal welfare issue in the UK and is one of the most horrific forms of organised animal cruelty – not only for the violence the dogs endure during fights but because of the trauma they suffer throughout their lives.

“Currently perpetrators of dog fighting will face a maximum six months in prison, compared to fly tippers who face five years. This is ludicrous and needs to change, starting with the law being brought into line with much of the rest of Europe and Northern Ireland by increasing the maximum sentence to five years imprisonment.

“The League is also seeking that a national register of convicted animal abusers be implemented to prevent individuals banned from keeping animals from flouting the law – a call backed by a number of cross party MPs attending our Summer Reception in Parliament.”

An attack on democracy?


The March 22nd murders in Westminster have been described as an attack on democracy and an assault on our constitution but I think that this is wildly over the top and actually elevates the actions of a pathetic failure as a human being who achieved nothing in his life except the brutal slaughter of some good and decent people and the contempt of all.

In a darkened bedroom a sad soul may gloat in the flickering light of a computer screen and the nihilists of Daesh may seek to posthumously recognise he who they choose to describe as a soldier but sane and civilised people will see him for what he was and few will mourn his passing.

I don’t see evidence of an assault on democracy.

The Daily Mail is more than capable of taking care of that responsibility and in their headlong hurtling journey over the cliff and into the gutter they manage to exceed even the lowest expectations whether it be their labelling of the Law Lords as “enemies of the people” or the sickening sniggering sweaty stupidity of a front page devoted to the legs of two women.

No – Wednesday was an attack for sure but as we whiled away the lonely hours in the Chamber none of us felt that democracy was the target.

Like so many moments of crisis there were long periods of stultifying boredom interspersed with occasions of high drama – as when one of the counter terrorism officers hoofed in the door from the Members’ Lobby to the tea room corridor and sent a beautiful piece of Victorian brass door furniture flying across the Lobby.

Bizarrely the firearms officers wore what looked like mattresses on their backs – presumable as an anti-blast precaution in the same way as once we pushed mattresses against the windows of the Europa Hotel in Belfast – but also thin soled slippers that looked like something a ballet dancer would wear.

In the Chamber a couple of hundred MPs and a fair sprinkling of civilians tended to channel either the spirit of the blitz or the Lord of The Flies and panic did start to set in as all the smart ‘phones ran out of power and things got a little tasty around the charging point in the post office.

As the possessor of an excellent no frills Nokia from the last century I had no such problems and the three month battery life for which that handy tool is noted served me well.

A more entrepreneurial person might have flogged a few minutes of ‘phone time but socialism survives even in extremis.

After about three hours some were feeling the pangs of hunger and it was suggested that we may have to eat Tom Watson if we were kettled for any length of time.

Amidst objections by vegetarians it was suggested that perhaps a raiding party could be dispatched to the tea room and all that could be scavenged be rushed back to us. When the mounds of Tunnock’s tea cakes and prawn sandwiches appeared the noble Catherine McKinnell immediately suggested that all the visitors and staff members trapped with us should get first dibs at the food.

The SNP cadre did not agree – or did not hear – and in what was described as a buffet version of the Barnett formula they fell upon the provender like a tartan wolf on the fold.

Throughout the desperate hours one figure remained calm and in control – Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, really rose to greatness on this afternoon and whilst there were rumours – surely base – that the Speaker was regretful that it was not he who was in the Chair when the dramatic announcement was made we were all grateful that the People’s Lindsay was on the bridge.

If his was the proof of greatness there were others who did not have a good afternoon. Word reached us that Their Lordships were not inconsiderably perturbed that as their House had not formally commenced business that were not entitled to their allowances – even though they were as kettled as we were, albeit in rather more luxurious surroundings.

Poor Tulip Siddiq was desperate to collect her infant child from the crèche but was not able to do so while others who should have known better tried to remonstrate with the doorkeepers and ask to be slipped through the cordon as they had important matters pertaining to the future of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to attend to.

In fact it was the men and women in tights and tailcoats who were the real heroes and heroines of the day.

By about seven pm we were back in our offices and as I climbed up to the second floor of 1 Parliament Street I encountered a wondrous smell that proved to be a vast stock of sausages, chips, eggs and beans prepared by the cooks at their own initiative with no prompting at all from management.

The fact that one of these noble culinary artists is also the Staff Side TU Rep did not surprise me.

At the end of the day we had survived with a few minor inconveniences.

PC Keith Palmer and the victims on Westminster Bridge were dead. That puts things into perspective and anyone who dared to moan about our experience needs to get a sense of proportion – as does the press that reported the day as if London had fallen.