Crewe and Nantwich MP Dr Kieran Mullan has called on the government to do more to tackle pet theft crime during a House of Commons debate.
During the debate, the MP said there was anecdotal evidence to suggest pet theft had increased during the Coronavirus lockdown period.
Speaking in the debate in the House of Commons Dr Mullan said:
It is hard for the Government to defend their position and say it is satisfactory when honourable Members who want to understand whether the law is working have tabled written questions asking about average sentences and found we are not recording those statistics. The Government must tackle that first so that, whatever decisions are made today and in the near future, they—and we, as scrutinisers—can judge whether the current approach is working.
Research undertaken by Daniel Allen of Keele University suggests that less than 1% of dog theft crimes that are investigated result in an offender being charged as of 2018.
The MP for Crewe and Nantwich went on to add:
We need to make it clear to criminals who snatch pets from loving families that they are committing a serious offence and they will be punished accordingly. We do not know whether that is happening at the moment, and we cannot guarantee that it is.
There is no specific offence relating to the theft of a pet, it is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.
Sentencing is dependant on the value of the animal up to or above £500 and then categorised into a Category Three offence, punishable by a fine or upto two years imprisonment, or a Category 4 offence, a fine or upto a 36 week custodial sentence.
In the closing part of his speech Dr Mullan said:
The Government will point out that, yes, the guidelines do allow for additional weight be given to the emotional impact surrounding an offence, but even when that is the case, the starting point becomes just one year as a category 3 offence, which does not provide a strong enough solution.