Animal welfare enforcement and prosecution guidelines

Animal welfare problems can range from a complaint about incorrect feeding of a goldfish to alleged cruelty to an elephant in a travelling circus. Council officers will work within this policy as appropriate.

Animal welfare enforcement statement

The council's approach to enforcement reflects the terms of the Government's Enforcement Concordat  and complies with the Council Policy for Regulation and Enforcement for all council regulators.

Environmental Health will liaise with other enforcement agencies or bodies where there is a shared enforcement role. For example: DEFRA., the RSPCA, the police, other council services.

It is recognised that some people or businesses using this service will have particular needs such as out of hours visits or translation requirements and we will endeavour to accommodate these needs where practicable.

Receipt of service request

It is essential that certain basic information is obtained whenever a request for assistance is received or a complaint made. It is likely you will be asked:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your contact phone number
  • Details of the problem

What we will do

  1. We will provide clear advice and information on how to comply with any legislation, Code of Practice or Guidance.
  2. We will serve Statutory Notices where required or Notice of Action being taken, making clear what steps are being required for compliance.
  3. Where there are rights of appeal against either Statutory Notices, Notice of Actions or warning letters, advice on any appeal mechanism will be clearly set out in writing at the time the notice is served or action is carried out.
  4. We will provide advice and information to businesses where appropriate and endeavour to ensure that all our correspondence on enforcement matters is clear and unambiguous.
  5. We will advise individuals and businesses of a named officer responsible for dealing with their case.
  6. We will expect full voluntary compliance with Statutory Notices / Notice of Actions / Warning Letters but will not hesitate to use enforcement powers, where necessary. This may include the seizure of animals and the instigation of legal proceedings.
  7. We aim to provide an efficient and fair enforcement service. However, in the event that a person or business is not satisfied with the way the council has exercised its Animal Welfare duties, the council has a formal complaints procedure for the registering of complaints. Please contact the council's Complaints Officer on 023 9244 6040.

Animal welfare service enforcement powers

We regard enforcement as encompassing all the actions we may take to achieve compliance with the conditions of statutory notices and notices of action. We will take the appropriate level of enforcement action within our statutory powers and the framework of this enforcement policy.

The following courses of action exist to deal with infringements:

 

 

Action

Comment

1.

No action

Generally for unsubstantiated allegations or anonymous complaints

2.

Verbal advice

General advice where allegations of non-compliance with the appropriate Animal Welfare Legislation are unsubstantiated. Or where issued as general advice regarding good house keeping or animal care.

3.

Warning letters

General advice where allegations of statutory infringement are unsubstantiated or where immediate action was taken by the alleged offender to stop the infringement. Warnings are also given where there is not enough evidence available to establish statutory infringement or where extenuating circumstances apply (e.g. where a sick animal has been abandon or left on the doorstep of a Pet Shop. Therefore ensuring that it is not being offered for sale in its current state of ill health.

4.

Service of Statutory Notices / Action Warning Letters e.g. under the Pet Animals (Pet Shops) Act 1951, the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963, the Riding Establishment Acts 1964 and 1970, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 etc.

Served where statutory nuisance has been substantiated, or where such action is considered necessary and appropriate.

5.

Prosecution in Magistrate's Court

For substantiated breaches of statutory notices, i.e. where statutory notices, warning letters have not been complied with. For obstruction of authorised officers carrying out their duties.

6.

Seizure / Forfeiture of Pets or Animals offered for sale, breeding, riding or performance etc.

Where the individual Act deems such action is appropriate, statutory infringement continues unabated in breach of warning letters or previous / Judgements previously given.

7.

High Court Injunction

For serious and persistent breaches or infringement of the relative Animal Welfare Acts / Judgements previously given

 

  • Foresee ability of an offence or circumstances leading to it.

Where an offence is clearly foreseeable, or where there have been a series of breaches or incidents that the offender or their employees are clearly aware of, and has failed to take effective remedial action, we will be more likely to prosecute.

  • Intent of the offender individually or corporately.

We will be more likely to prosecute where the offender knows that a course of action or inaction is likely to lead to a breach of the appropriate Act, a statutory notice, notice of action or written warning.

  • History of offending.

We will be more likely to prosecute where we have evidence of a history of offences, even if these offences are not the subject of legal proceedings e.g. because they are past the legal deadline for bringing an action.

  • Attitude of the offender.

We will be more likely to prosecute where the offender shows reluctance to take appropriate remedial action to prevent further breaches of statutory notices.

Presumption to prosecute

Where there is sufficient evidence and where appropriate, having followed the guidance in the Enforcement Concordat, we will prosecute in any of the following circumstances:

  • Failure to comply with statutory notices, notice of action or written warning.
  • Following the seizure of any animal, equipment or assets.
  • Obstruction of council officers or the council's appointed contractor or agent.

Animal welfare enforcement decision

Each case will be considered on its own facts and merits. The decision on what level of enforcement action is necessary will take into account:

  • Proven degree of animal suffering or maltreatment. We will be more likely to prosecute where the breach of condition has resulted in the serious suffering or maltreatment of the animal(s).

Prosecution of company and individuals

Where a company is involved it will be usual practice to prosecute the company. However where individuals have caused offences e.g. maltreatment of animals or of obstruction then we will consider prosecuting those individuals. We will also consider the part played in the offence by directors and managers and action may be taken against such personnel, if appropriate. Where an offence is of special gravity, the council will consider taking action in the High Court.

Enforcement concordat

Havant Borough Council has formally adopted the Enforcement Concordat. Before any enforcement action is considered following expiry of a formal notice, the case will be discussed with relevant officers within the council.