Penalty notices introduced for animal health and welfare offences

Offences include keeping animals in a poor living environment, repeated overdue TB testing or breaching avian flu housing orders.

cattle in a field on animal health and welfare penalty offences on livestock farming article
Stock photo for illustration only.

New legislation has introduced the option to issue fixed penalty notices for a range of animal health and welfare related offences.

Penalty notices of up to £5,000 could be issued from 1st January 2024.

They could be issued for offences such as animals living in a poor environment, repeated overdue bovine TB testing, breaching of avian influenza housing orders, or animal breeders operating without a license. 

Serious animal welfare offences will still be prosecuted.

This will be added to the existing portfolio of enforcement measures, such as warning letters, statutory notices or movement restrictions to protect animals and help ensure animal keepers follow the law.

The secondary legislation has been laid under the Animals (Penalty Notices) Act.

Defra said advice and guidance will remain the primary enforcement tool for early redirection to protect animals from harm.

Animal welfare and biosecurity minister Douglas-Miller said: “All keepers have a duty of care to protect their animals from harm, as well as adhering to biosecurity rules to protect our nation from devastating diseases.

“I know the majority of animal owners recognise the importance of these rules, but it is vital that tough enforcement steps are taken when those rules are broken.

“I welcome penalty notices as an additional tool for our partners to use to encourage compliance with the law.”

A penalty notice gives an individual the opportunity to discharge liability from prosecution for an alleged criminal offence in exchange for a fee and correcting the issue.

Statutory guidance has also been published today to help enforcement authorities with the implementation of penalty notices.

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