I have been contacted by constituents regarding Reports Of Cats Being Shot in Milton Keynes.
As the Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes South, I have included below my response:
I strongly believe that there is no place in this country for animal cruelty and it is deeply unsettling to hear reports of air rifle attacks on our feline pets. We must ensure that the perpetrators of these abhorrent acts are met with the full force of the law.
Anyone who shoots a cat with an air rifle is liable to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act which came into force on the 29 June 2021 increased the maximum penalties available for cases of cruelty. Anyone who is cruel to an animal now faces being sent to prison for up to 5 years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both. I believe that this increase in sentencing will send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. The maximum five-year sentence is one of the toughest punishments in Europe and I believe strengthens the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
I am pleased that the firearms law is kept under review to ensure it addresses emerging risks to public safety. The Home Office has now published the outcome of their air weapons review and has sought views on proposals for new controls in England and Wales as part of the consultation on firearms safety, which ministers are now carefully considering. I am encouraged that it is already an offence to sell or let on hire air weapons or their ammunition to those under 18 years of age, or for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or hire an air weapon or ammunition. In relation to storage, the firearms safety consultation proposed strengthening the offence of failing to take ‘reasonable precautions’ so that whenever under-18s are on the premises, this must include locking an air weapon out of sight when not in use and storing the ammunition separately.