Do you agree with the Scottish Government’s position on the enforcement of welfare of animals in transport and proposed course of action? Please provide any further relevant information.
The Scottish Government feels that, together with the provision of guidance to support compliance and best practice, effective enforcement is key to identifying and addressing concerns and is important to incentivise compliance. Local authorities and other UK enforcement authorities (especially APHA) have important roles and responsibilities, and it is vital that they work closely and collaboratively together.
We support FAWC’s recommendation that all parties involved in enforcement should operate in a well-aligned, collaborative and unified way. Existing information sharing and liaison arrangements exist, and we agree that these could usefully be reviewed to help identify improvements. This could include how enforcement performance is monitored and managed, and how the authorities are using the powers they hold.
We agree that effective enforcement involves being able to apply the right types of penalties, and that we could usefully review the current range of available penalties, including in what circumstances they can be applied and also their depth and scale.
Current non-compliance with welfare in transport legislation may be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and/or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. The Scottish Government will also consider the introduction of fixed penalty notices for animal transport offences.
We agree with FAWC’s earlier recommendation on further research on changing attitudes towards compliance through support and guidance. We also agree that additional support enabling and promoting improved compliance should be considered.
Of the 307 responses to this question, 59.6% were in favour of the Scottish Government’s position on enforcement of welfare of animals in transport and proposed course of action. 25.1% were not in favour and 15.3% did not express a view.
There was strong support for FAWC’s proposal for enforcement bodies to “operate in a well aligned, collaborative and unified way” (British Horse Racing Authority). Scottish Pig Producers suggested that “FAWC provided no evidence that the Scottish system of liaison … is not currently working”; but that there should be periodical reviews as “improvements can always be made”. A number of local authorities commented that local authorities and APHA “work together routinely … with a Framework Document which embeds this partnership” (Scottish Animal Health & Welfare Panel).
A number of organisations commented on the potential introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices for non-compliance with regulations. Four Paws considered these to be “good and must also rise in case of repeated violations; for repeated violation or in case of major infringements transport permits must be withdrawn” and Compassion in World Farming considered that “those who persistently fail to comply should be banned from transporting animals”.
A number of enforcement and industry organisations considered the current legislation “sufficient, if efficiently applied” (Shetland Islands Council) and Argyll & Bute informed the consultation that APHA’s Welfare in Transport Team “record misdemeanours and prosecutions and have the power to remove authorisations from drivers or whole companies”.
A number of organisations considered that education and training “should be the priority rather than ‘enforcement’” (unnamed organisation) and that these “may be more effective with some classes of animal/owner” (Scotland’s Rural College). The Scottish SPCA and the Sustainable Food Trust provided similar comments suggesting it best to approach enforcement positively through help and support for persons to comply with the requirements.
With regard to the resources for any changes there were a number of comments that this should be “budgeted from main government rather than local authorities” (individual). The British Veterinary Association commented that “any increase in regulatory activity must be costed, supported and resourced and should not lead to a reduction in other essential regulatory activity”.
Other proposals from respondents included suggestions that Local Authority enforcement officers be granted “powers to stop livestock vehicles” (Dumfries & Galloway Council); and that the regulatory authority for ships, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who operate a “comprehensive and effective inspection and certification regime” (unnamed organisation) should be included in future discussions.