East Yorkshire MP welcomes plan for new ‘pet abduction’ offence following thefts of animals
The creation of a proposed offence of ‘pet abduction’ is to be recommended to the Government following a campaign by MPs.
The move will enable the courts to impose stiffer sentences on those who steal beloved pets after a huge increase in pet thefts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under legislation being drawn up by the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP, the new offence will take into account the fact that stealing a family pet is not just theft, but also causes distress for the family and can also be cruel to the animal involved.
East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight is one of those who has been calling on the Government to take action and who has backed a review of the law in this area.
Sir Greg said: “Pet thefts in the UK, particularly of dogs, have increased by almost a fifth during the Coronavirus pandemic with on average, up to seven pets a day being reported stolen last year according to official police figures.
“Therefore, plans to tighten up the law and increase the punishment imposed have my full backing.
“A purpose-made new offence will mean all those who steal pets will face tougher sentences automatically.
“One of the problems has been that although offences under the Theft Act do carry a maximum term of seven years imprisonment, there is no evidence that the courts have treated the offences with that level of seriousness.
“This is partly because when deciding upon sentencing, under our existing laws, the penalty imposed is largely determined by the monetary value of the property stolen and does not take proper account of the emotional stress and distress also involved.”
Plans for this new offence with the imposition of tougher penalties come in response to pressure from MP’s across the Commons, including Sir Greg.
The change in the law is now likely to go ahead when the House of Commons returns from recess next month.