Animal abusers who commit the most heinous crimes will face up to five years in jail after draft legislation set out by Environment Secretary Michael Gove gained strong support from welfare groups and the public.
The maximum sentence is currently six months but following a public consultation the Government has confirmed it will legislate to increase that tenfold for serious offences.
“This Government is making good on our commitment to make the UK a world leader in the care and protection of animals as we leave the EU,” said Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Gardiner.
“Our proposals to raise maximum sentences for animal abusers attracted strong support. We will now legislate so courts have the power to punish offenders properly.
“We will also continue to work with welfare organisations to ensure that animal sentience is properly recognised in our legislation once we have left the EU.”
Defra also said the new measures are part of wider programme of reform to cement the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
“This includes making CCTV mandatory in all English slaughterhouses and taking steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter as we leave the EU,” it added.