HC Deb 13 March 2003 vol 401 cc427-8
19. Norman Baker (Lewes)

If she will make a statement on her policy in respect of prosecutions for animal cruelty. [102721]

The Solicitor-General (Ms Harriet Harman)

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals undertakes most prosecutions for animal cruelty. It has long-established expertise in both the investigation and prosecution of cases involving animal welfare.

Norman Baker

Is the Minister aware that, since 1997, there has been a decrease in proceedings for animal cruelty offences, a decrease in the number of convictions and a decrease in the percentage of those convicted, despite the fact that not all animal cruelty offences are even notifiable? Is that not very worrying, given the strong feelings among all our constituents throughout the country? What is the Minister doing to improve the situation?

The Solicitor-General

I am not able to say whether or not the situation is worrying, I am afraid. I will have to look into that and get back to the hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether there is less cruelty or less investigation going on, but I can certainly say, from the Crown Prosecution Service's point of view, that if there is evidence of a criminal offence and it is in the public interest to prosecute, it will do so.