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Petitions Committee disappointed at Government's inaction on ‘spiralling’ pet theft

28 July 2020

The Petitions Committee has expressed disappointment at the Government’s response to the call to make pet theft a specific criminal offence.


Last month, following multiple petitions with more than 250,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee supported calls for the Government to ensure that pets' value is recognised in the law, and for pet theft to be made a specific crime.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice, Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP and Committee member Tom Hunt MP urged Ministers to ensure that sentencing options available to courts acted as a real deterrent for those who commit pet theft crimes. The letter also set out options for the Government on how to achieve this, and urged Ministers to take urgent action to amend legislation.


Formally responding to the Committee in a letter published on 30 July 2020, the Secretary of State for Justice acknowledged the impact of pet theft as causing “deep distress” for pet owners. The Minister also said he recognised the “strength of feeling among campaigners regarding this issue” - but reiterated that the Government has no plans to take further action in terms of legislation against those committing acts of pet theft. In his letter, the Secretary of State for Justice stated he was satisfied that current laws cover the crime of pet theft.
The response from the Government comes as recent research showed thefts surged 65% amid lockdown. The figures add to concerns raised by pet theft reform campaigners, whose research has shown that the number of thefts is increasing year-on-year.

Read the letter from the Secretary of State for Justice


Concerned campaigners for pet theft reform took part in a discussion last month with Petitions Committee member Tom Hunt MP. Participants included vet and campaigner Marc Abraham, John Cooper QC, and Keele University academic Dr Daniel Allen, who has launched three separate petitions on the issue.

Watch the discussion here


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