Campaigns. It is important that I continue to know the strength of feeling on an issue and I prefer to respond to every inquiry, but the sheer size of campaign correspondence means that it is hard to justify to the tax payer the cost and time taken for individual written replies, so regrettably I will no longer reply to every item of campaign correspondence.  I will  post a response to the campaign on the "Responses to campaigns" page of my website.

I am sorry to do this, as it is rather impersonal, but can see no other way of maintaining a good service for all my constituents unless I approach campaigns this way.

22 JUN 2018

Pet Theft

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about pet theft.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

To their owners, pets are cherished members of the family, so to steal one from a loving home is a particularly vicious crime. To tackle it I favour rigorously enforcing existing laws, and a number of offences can be used to prosecute these cases.
Where the offence charged is theft, the maximum penalty under the Theft Act 1968 is seven years' imprisonment. In addition, while a stolen pet may not necessarily have been mistreated, where it has been offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of animal cruelty or failure to meet an animal's basic needs carry a maximum of six months imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both; legislation is being brought forward to increase punishments for the most horrific acts of animal cruelty to five years. Courts also have the power to ban an offender from keeping animals in the future.
It is for the courts to decide the right sentence in individual cases, and a new sentencing guideline on theft came into force at the beginning of February 2016. The body responsible did consider suggestions that there should be a separate guideline on pet theft but concluded that aggravating factors, such as emotional distress caused to the victim, already enable the courts to impose appropriate sentences.
With regard to compulsorily scanning microchips, it is already considered the best practice for stray pets to be scanned when received by vets and rescue centres. Guidance from the British Veterinary Association also advises veterinarians always to scan animals brought into their surgeries for the first time.

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