Below are just a few of the finer points of the Animal Welfare Bill. The RSPCA received full prosecutional powers from Defra as of September 1st. When the Animal Welfare Act comes into being the 1911 Protection of Animals Act will be phased out putting the RSPCA in charge of most aspects of animal care and control in this country. All aspects of animal care/stockmanship.husbandry will be covered by Codes of Practice. The Secretary of State need only consult people that she 'sees fit' to determine these Codes.
There are no safeguards in place to protect civil or legal rights
Sect 13 appears to give the right to recover costs whether or not the owner is found guilty.
Subsection (4) states that the protection provided by subsection(3) the right to the owner to be heard by the Court,does not apply if the Court is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to communicate with the owner!
Sect 16 makes it an offence to obstruct a prosecutor or a person authorised by him in the exercise of these powers
Sect 19 permits a prosecutor or anyone authorised by him to enter the premises for the purpose of exercising the powers conferred by the order to tag or mark an animal.
Sect 20 (1) provides for reimbursement of prosecutors reasonable expenses incurred in the exercise of powers conferred by the order. Why is there no protection given to the defendant found innocent? Why should he have to pay if the prosecutor has made a mistake?
Sect 22 changes the criteria for costs. Costs are now claimable from the arrested person, not the owner, as a civil debt. There is still no provision for an innocent person to not be responsible for costs incurred.
There is no right of appeal if the court orders destruction "in the interests of the welfare of the animal."
Sect 31 enables the destruction of an animal if the Court is satisfied it constitutes a danger to public safety. This gives carte blanche for the Prosecutor to demand the deaths of dozens of innocent dogs simply because of their breed.
Sect 43 extends the time limits to three years for a prosecution to commence.
Explanatory Note under Animals in distress: GeneralClause 11; Power to take possession of, and retain, animals in distress. Section 55 subsection (4):-The power to retain possession of animals extends beyond those in respect of which proceedings have been commenced to include other animals taken into possession on the same occasion for example some cattle in a herd are found to be suffering, the whole herd could be taken into possession and cared for even though proceedings are commenced only in relation to some of the animals.Scary stuff eh? Then consider that the Bill allows the Court NOT to hear the owner's side if the Court decides it is not reasonably practicable to do so and the owner/farmer, etc. will be responsible for all costs even if found not guilty.
Section 16 (6) makes it an offence to obstruct a prosecutor or a person authorised by him (REMEMBER THE PROSECUTOR IS THE RSPCA NOW SINCE THE PROSECUTIONAL POWERS IT TOOK ON IN SEPTEMBER) _ in the exercise of the powers conferred by an order under subsection(1). Combining sub section (6) with sub section (7) which provides that an order made under subsection (1) ceases to have effect if the case is dropped or ended in some way, but protects anything done before the order ceases to have effect. It is clear that there is a danger of a determined prosecutor who wishes to do maximum damage to the defendant waiting until animals have been disposed of before dropping a weak case. All this and still the owner is responsible for all costs.They also have the right to seize an animal and have it cared for on your premises. So they seize your animal — they have right of access onto your property at any time to use any of your equipment and supplies to care for the animal.If they bring a weak or improper case it does not matter because all costs incurred are the owner's responsibility.This Bill needs to be seriously exposed. It is as dangerous, if not more so, than the Animal Health Bill.
ANIMAL LEGISLATION INFORMATION GROUP
The relevant sections in full can be seen by following this link http://www.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm62/6252/6252.htm