Establishing a governmental animal protection body is the key to a paradigm shift towards genuine respect for animals.
Why we need a government animal protection body
Industries that harm animals, such as intensive farming and animal experimentation, have come to dominate the UK government to the exclusion of animal protection and public opinion. This set-up is perpetuated by a government structure that prioritises ‘competitiveness’ and deregulation, including the various agencies and departments that sponsor the commercial interests of animal harm industries. Conversely, there are no laws or institutions to promote animal welfare protection and ensure it is a meaningful consideration for government.
Our research shows that this situation of institutionalised government bias against animal welfare is the fundamental reason for weak animal welfare laws, feeble enforcement and, consequently, levels of animal harm that go way beyond public acceptability. This also explains why current animal advocacy campaigns aimed at government are generally unsuccessful.
Therefore, establishing a governmental animal protection body is the key to a paradigm shift towards genuine respect for animals.
Structure and Remit
The new overarching governmental Animal Protection Commission (APC) would be established by new legislation and combine research, advisory, policy-formulation and enforcement roles. Because they have been comprehensively captured by animal harm interests, it is necessary to replace the animal welfare-related policy processes in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Home Office and other existing agencies with a new, independent regulatory approach under the new APC.
The Commission would be legally mandated to challenge harmful treatment of animals and protect and promote animal welfare. The APC would be the UK-wide body leading on animal welfare, working closely with animal welfare-related bodies in the devolved authorities of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as local government. Independence would be safeguarded through legal requirements that those with interests in activities involving potential/actual harm to animals do not form a majority on the Commission’s decision-making bodies.
A core principle governing the APC’s work would be the use of ‘deliberative democratic’ methods in order to achieve authentic public participation and improve the quality and legitimacy of policy decisions through more complete and thorough consideration of relevant evidence. Key APC powers and responsibilities should include:
- Initiating systematic surveillance of animal welfare in the UK to create benchmarks and allow future monitoring – or ‘animal welfare audits’ – of progress in protecting animal
- Developing a cross-government strategy, targets and plan for animal protection.
- Supporting and overseeing local government, police and NGO enforcement of animal protection laws, including the administration of a register of convicted animal abuse