Yesterday, the RSPCA published the long-awaited review of its prosecutions policy. Interesting choice of timing – it finally released the critical report on the day of Cameron’s conference speech. Talk about burying bad news.
The review recommends that the RSPCA no longer prosecutes hunts because it also campaigns on hunting, and calls into serious question the direction it has been taking.
Personally, I think the charity needs a serious re-think after some shocking miscarriages of justice where it has pursued pet owners for very minor infringements, and been totally unaccountable and closed to any kind of public scrutiny.
We now need a proper debate and I urge anyone interested in animal welfare to read the report by Stephen Wooler, former CPS chief inspector, commissioned in December 2013.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at The Countryside Alliance, which has long campaigned for changes, said:
‘Stephen Wooler’s report vindicates our position and accepts nearly every concern that we raised in relation to RSPCA prosecutions.
‘Unfortunately, however, the review was sabotaged from the start by the RSPCA’s refusal to consider whether it should be prosecuting at all. That is the fundamental question which was raised in Parliament and to which the then Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, was referring when he suggested that the RSPCA carry out this independent review.
‘Of course the RSPCA can improve the way it prosecutes but the real question is whether it should prosecute at all.