DUP MP Gregory Campbell says Northern Ireland’s stringent animal cruelty laws should be emulated across the United Kingdom to send out a strong signal to dog-baiters and dog-fighters.
The East Londonderry MP made the call during a debate on dog fighting secured by Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, Dr Lisa Cameron, at Westminster.
Mr Campbell asked: “Does she agree that it would send out a strong signal, at a time when there are political divisions across the United Kingdom, if we could show the wider community that there is unity of purpose by increasing penalties in every nation of the United Kingdom for such heinous and unacceptable criminal activity?”
Dr Cameron replied: “I thank the hon. Gentleman, and I would like collaboration and agreement across the UK on the issue. I also want to highlight the fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly has recently increased maximum prison sentences from two to five years, and maximum fines from £5,000 to £20,000. That means that it will have the most stringent legislation in the UK on animal cruelty offences.”
Mr Campbell’s DUP colleague Jim Shannon pointed out that action in Northern Ireland had been sorely needed.
“Northern Ireland was unfortunately, until very recently, found wanting when it came to animal cruelty. Cases in Northern Ireland have been extreme, with 4,000 animal welfare cases investigated every year and 114 convictions for animal cruelty between 2012 and 2014, only 15 of which resulted in custodial sentences,” he said.