1.1 The Animal Health and Welfare Framework has been introduced to recognise the importance of central and local government working together. It has been created in partnership between the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS), the Society of the Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland (SOCOEHS) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). All parties work in partnership on the operation of this Framework.
1.2 The Framework is intended to provide the basis for a working partnership between the local authorities and APHA to ensure effective, accountable and coordinated delivery of animal health and welfare services. It provides a risk-based approach to animal health and welfare duties carried out by local authorities in partnership with APHA and will incorporate the full range of animal health and welfare work carried out by local authorities, with the exception of licensing of animal establishments, and any expansion of this under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
1.3 The Framework will help to meet the objectives of Scotland's Animal Health and Welfare in the Livestock Industry: Strategy 2016 to 2021, which involves reducing the regulatory burden and streamlining and improving enforcement. The Framework will also support the Scottish Government's Agriculture and Rural Communities Directorate's strategic objective of protecting domestic animal health and welfare in Scotland.
1.4 The COSLA/SG Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate document, 'Animal Health and Welfare Statutory Obligations and Main Activity Areas for Local Authorities', sets out the roles and responsibilities placed on local authorities and, where appropriate, other partner agencies. It also sets out the main regulatory activities of local authority animal health inspectors, and briefly summarises the various statutory instruments they enforce.
1.5 The Framework also helps to address the requirements of Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on Official Feed and Food Controls, in ensuring verification of compliance with animal health and welfare rules. This regulation aims to improve the consistency and effectiveness of official controls within Member States and across the EC. Member States are required to ensure that official controls are carried out regularly, on a risk basis and with appropriate frequency, so as to achieve the objectives of the Regulation taking account of identified risks associated with animals and their health and welfare.
The Official Controls (Animals, Feed and Food) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (SSI 2007/91) designates the competent authorities in Scotland who carry out the official controls which principally are Scottish Ministers and local authorities. The Regulation also provides for the sharing of information, gives powers for inspectors and auditors and provides powers for Scottish Ministers to ascertain compliance by local authorities with the audit obligation under EC 882/2004.
1.6 Each Member State is required under Regulation EC 882/2004 to prepare a multi-annual (between three and five years) national control plan describing the national official feed and food, and animal health and welfare control arrangements, and setting out the objectives and priorities for control activities during the period of the plan. To comply with this requirement, the UK has produced the 'Multi-Annual National Control Plan for the United Kingdom - April 2013 to March 2015'. The plan was extended to cover up to the end of March 2019 and was updated in 2019 again. The updated version includes for example, application of the new Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 that replaces Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.
The current UK Plan has been prepared jointly by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Scottish Government Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities Directorate (SG AFRCD), the Welsh Government Sustainable Futures, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – Northern Ireland.
Now that the UK has left the European Union, this governance will be important to demonstrate equivalent governance.
1.7 The Framework recognises the commitment given in the Plan to encourage participation by Scottish local authorities. The Framework recognises that local authorities in Scotland still operate within the boundaries of corporate governance and are accountable to Scottish Ministers, Parliament and ultimately the public, and works on the principle that each local authority in Scotland has a service plan in place outlining activities for animal health and welfare. Included in these activities for local authorities in Scotland are enforcement policies/powers; procedures for authorising officers; procedures for inspections and visits; procedures for dealing with complaints and complaint procedures; and procedures/plans in place for dealing with outbreaks of notifiable diseases.
1.8 The Framework was initially designed to be supported by the Animal Health & Welfare Management & Enforcement System (AMES): a national database enabling local authorities to record details of work undertaken on animal health and welfare, but this was not progressed in Scotland due to inherent issues identified in the initial pilot of AMES. As an alternative, a dataset of management and service information has been developed and so that local authorities report to the Scottish Government and this information can then influence policy and enforcement of animal health and welfare in Scotland. Because of the adoption and usage issues with AMES, its use is no longer assessed within the Framework.
To improve the sharing of intelligence between local authorities and to promote intelligence-led enforcement there has been agreement to encourage the use of the national Memex system for animal health and welfare related issues. The revised Framework has regard to this development. APHA, working through Food Standards Scotland's Scottish Food crime and Incident Unit is now logging intelligence reports on Memex.
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