Voices: What good are our animal protection laws if we don’t enforce them?

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Like so many others, I place a great deal of trust in the legal system of the United Kingdom.

I trust that after a new law is created, this will be partnered with sufficient enforcement to make sure it is followed in practice. I trust that those breaking the law will be held to account.

After all, this is an integral part of how our legal system functions in the UK. Arguably, enforcement is as important as the laws themselves.

After all, without application, what is a law really worth?

Animal welfare is an issue that is incredibly close to my heart, as it is for many of us.

But lately I have come to question my faith in the system. It strikes me that, in the realm of animal protection, enforcement is often so poor that it could well be argued that it barely even exists.

This seed of doubt began after I came across a unique and extensive report entitled The Enforcement Problem, produced by animal protection organisations Animal Equality UK and The Animal Law Foundation. With this report, for the first time ever in the UK, the stone-cold facts were laid bare.

I came to learn that, although there are currently around 300,000 farms operating in the UK, there is just one inspector in place for every 205 farms in existence. And that, within a four-year period, fewer than 3 per cent of farms were inspected on average. This is startling. How can we know if animal protection laws are being followed if 97 per cent of farms are not even formally inspected?

The Enforcement Problem documents 65 undercover investigations that have been carried out in...