RSPCA hopeful new Welsh Government may pave the way to statutory powers

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puppy farm pups RSPCA and statutory powers
Image by Becky Murray/RSPCA

The RSPCA may be one step closer to achieving statutory powers in Wales, as the newly appointed First Minister, Vaughan Gething MS, made a specific commitment in his leadership manifesto to empower RSPCA officers with “additional enforcement powers”.

In 2021, the RSPCA announces its aim to achieve statutory powers in England and Wales for its RSPCA. As things stand, RSPCA inspectors have no powers of entry to homes, gardens, land or vehicles, unless accompanying police on a court warrant. The process of turning to the police so that they can go to court and get a warrant can take days, which the RSPCA says is “a long time to wait” when they know an animal on the property is suffering.

As decisions regarding animal welfare fall under devolved powers in Wales, any moves towards granting formal recognition to the RSPCA would require action from the Welsh Government and the Senedd.

Huw Irranca-Davies MS, appointed as the new Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, will oversee animal welfare policy in Wales. He has previously voiced support for granting statutory powers to the RSPCA, citing the potential to alleviate burdens on other enforcement bodies and streamline processes.

RSPCA Senior Public Affairs Manager for Wales, Billie-Jade Thomas, said, “It’s really encouraging that the new First Minister, Vaughan Gething MS, singled out this issue in his leadership manifesto – and supported additional enforcement powers for our officers. We’re also really pleased his new Cabinet Secretary responsible for animal welfare has previously been a supporter of this too. We have written to them both to request meetings at their earliest convenience to discuss how we can progress this commitment together, and ensure our inspectors are even better equipped to carry out their vital work protecting animals.

“The formation of a new Welsh Government comes at a potentially exciting time for animal welfare in Wales. With the Welsh Government’s consultation of the licensing of animal establishments, activities and exhibits having recently closed, 2024 could also see progress towards stronger legal protections for thousands of animals in Wales – including racing greyhounds.

“With the Animal Welfare Plan for Wales now in its third year, we look forward to working with the new First Minister and Cabinet Secretary to create a Wales that is better and kinder for every animal.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. If the RSPCA wish to have formal powers, they must surrender the right to bring private prosecutions and be subordinate to the Crown Prosecution Service. They must also be formally (statutorily) accountable. Currently the RSPCA bring private prosecutions for political and financial objectives, that MUST end….

  2. Currently the RSPCA investigate and prosecute individuals – which is clearly a conflict of interest. Once an investigation is started the intention is to prosecute and recover vast costs, rather than establish innocence (when no costs can be reclaimed). The Post Office scandal shows how being the investigating and prosecuting authority is a clear conflict of interest. This, coupled with the RSPCAs clear political bias and an agenda based on maximising income is why it is a very dangerous move to give them more powers. They are accountable to nobody.

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