Tougher sentencing to be increased to five years after new Bill announcement Animal abusers could face up to five years in prison, under a new Bill announced by Defra. Defra made the announcement following the Cabinet approval. It comes following years of us campaigning, alongside other animal welfare charities, for the maximum sentence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be increased from six months to five years. The increased sentences better reflect the severity of cruelty cases seen in England and Wales and bring us in line with Northern Ireland and other European countries, where convicted animal abusers can be jailed for up to five years. Tougher sentencing to reflect the severity of animal cruelty Our chief executive Chris Sherwood (pictured with our Inspector Graham Hammond and rescue dog, Jet, outside Number 10 this week) said: "This reform is long overdue. Those responsible for extreme cruelty towards animals or those criminal gangs involved in organised animal crime, such as dog fighting or badger baiting, will now face the tough justice they deserve. "The current maximum sentence of six months neither reflects the severity of some of the cruelty we witness on a daily basis nor does it act as a deterrent. Even if magistrates and judges impose the maximum sentence - six months in prison - offenders will often serve just a few weeks before being released. As a nation that prides itself on its love of animals, this is simply not acceptable. "If courts had more flexibility and the ability to impose sentences of up to five years then this would be a better reflection of the severity of some of the cases our officers bring to court." New Bill should help stop animal cruelty continuing Chris, along with leaders from 10 other animal welfare charities, hosted a roundtable discussion at Number 10 on Monday (24 June) calling on the UK Government to fulfil its promise to increase the maximum sentence more than 18 months after Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove made the promise. Lord Randall - the Prime Minister's environment advisor - chaired the meeting, which was also attended by Inspector Graham Hammond and two-year-old terrier Jet. Jet who was shot four times in the head by the ex-boyfriend of his previous owner and left for dead. Chris added: "It's a sad reality that, in England, you could face a longer prison sentence for fly-tipping than for brutally beating an animal to death. We need to better protect our animals and the RSPCA hopes that this new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill will give courts the powers they need to punish those responsible for the most unimaginable cruelty to innocent, defenceless animals. "We also believe this would act as a much stronger deterrent to other pet owners and hopefully help us stamp out animal cruelty once and for all."