Torbay’s MP Kevin Foster has welcomed moves by the Government to review the law on the theft of pets, a growing crime which can have a significant effect on local families, but has stated reducing Judge’s sentencing powers should not be part of the solution.
The Ministry of Justice has joined forces with Defra and the Home Office to create a joint Taskforce to look at pet theft end-to-end and to consider every aspect from prevention, reporting, enforcement and prosecution and Ministers will make clear recommendations on tackling this problem. The Government have stated there is a need to gather, research and commission work to build a clear evidence base of the scale of this issue – so that the actions taken will have a lasting effect.
The Taskforce is taking evidence from stakeholders and experts in the relevant fields including researchers, campaign groups and animal welfare organisations. They will report in the summer, and by the autumn Ministers will begin working on the implementation of the approved policy recommendations.
This follows the moves by Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, to bring more attention to the issue around dog theft, including the appointment of a specialist lead police officer to tackle this growing crime.
Under current laws stealing a dog can carry up to 7 years in prison, yet a proposal backed by the Leader of the Lib Dem\Independent Coalition running Torbay Council would have only carried a maximum sentence of 4 years, 3 years less than the current law.
Kevin said: “The theft of a pet can have a big effect, especially a companion who is more part of the family than an item of property. I therefore welcome this review into what changes are needed to tackle this crime and welcome the action Alison is already taking as our Police and Crime Commissioner.”
“I can understand the attraction of creating a specific offence, but this should not be used as a way to lower the maximum sentence Judges have available to them when dealing with the worst offenders. Any changes need to ensure Judges have the powers they need to impose sentences which reflect the whole impact of this crime. ”