Maximum animal cruelty sentences to increase tenfold as Bill passes final reading at Lords

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In what is a landmark victory for animal welfare in the UK, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords today 28 April, and is poised to become law once it receives the Royal Assent.

The Bill will increase maximum sentences for the worst cases of animal cruelty in England tenfold, from only six months to five years – bringing it in line with the current penalties in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Welsh government has indicated that the law will come into force in Wales as well, thus protecting mistreated animals across all of the UK.

The Bill has suffered several delays and setbacks since it was announced in 2017. The previous Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill in England and Wales was first left in a limbo following the suspension of Parliament in September 2019, and then fell again as a new Parliament was formed following the December 2019 general election.

It was finally brought back as a Private Member’s Bill by Chris Loder MP in February 2020 and, as it turned out, third time’s the charm!

UPDATE 29/04/21: The Bill has received the Royal Assent, and is expeted to come into force on 29 June 2021.


  1. What better news than a passed law that NOW needs to be enforced by judges to protect the rights of animals. We are the caretakers of animals. Cruelty and abuse will continue until laws are passed and enforced -it seems to be the only thing humans understand-loss of freedom and extreme fines. So congratulations. And now let’s work on making it 10 years minimum. Cheers!! Happy here!


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