Lenient sentences for animal cruelty offences should be a thing of the past, meeting hears

Lenient sentences for those guilty of abusing animals should be a thing of the past, a major community event organised by Naomi Long MP has heard.

The animal welfare event, held last night (Wednesday) in McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church in East Belfast, saw over 100 concerned members of the public question representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Belfast City Council, the PSNI and Justice Minister David Ford about a range of issues including the disappearance of local pets, fox hunting and poisoning registered animals.

Alliance MP Mrs Long said the attendance despite treacherous conditions outside, showed the depth of feeling regarding animal welfare in East Belfast and further afield.

“It was a constructive meeting, with everyone pushing in the same direction regarding a desire to see those found guilty of animal cruelty crimes be given harsher sentences, both as a punishment and deterrent to prevent further similar instances.

“There were a number of issues raised that I will now take forward. Primarily, I will be writing to the Lord Chief Justice to say sentencing was a repeated theme raised and everyone wants to see movement on it. In addition, I am hopeful the police will also take onboard reports from the public that missing animals aren’t just that but rather potentially evidence to establish patterns and investigate wider crimes, which was another issue raised on the night.

“At a time when finances are under pressure, it’s important we don’t allow animal welfare to fall down the political agenda. This meeting was important because we had a Minister and senior civil servants there to make sure the message goes out clearly that this is an important matter and one the public want to see resources put into.”


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