Saturday, 17 August 2013



Below are extracts from FOI's submitted to all English and Welsh Police Forces, they all share RESTRICTED information with the RSPCA, many Forces even let the RSPCA Employee have direct access!

The RSPCA has a local information sharing agreement with Norfolk Constabulary. The RSPCA undertakes prosecutions in relation to persons who have committed offences involving animals. Within Norfolk these prosecution details are updated onto the Police National Computer (PNC) by Norfolk Constabulary and PNC information is provided in support of these. In addition to this, the Constabulary will undertake vehicle checks in support of an ongoing investigation.

As detailed in our previous response there are 9 members of the RSPCA who are authorised to undertake these enquiries with Norfolk Constabulary.
There is no central recording of these PNC checks but it is possible to carry out transaction
enquiries on the PNC database using relevant search criteria. There are 9 members of the RSPCA who are authorised to undertake these enquiries with Norfolk Constabulary.

How many Employees of the RSPCA, or individuals working on behalf of the RSPCA are authorised by your Police Force to make PNC, STORM or other information/data enquiries on all or any systems you operate.
Two RSPCA officers have been given the facility to request PNC vehicle registration keeper details in relation to urgent request for information.
Please specify if these individuals have direct or indirect access to such information and systems.

 This is indirect access. The RSPCA Officer contacts Devon & Cornwall Police and provides detailed security responses to questions to enable a request for information from the Police National Computer. 
Any request the RSPCA make to the Police are covered by the Data Protection Act Section 29(3) and risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

The RSPCA have an agreement with the ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) in order to request conviction histories from the PNC when the RSPCA have impending prosecutions against an individual. The RSPCA do not have direct access to the PNC systems, and these requests are all processed centrally by ACRO staff in Hampshire.
Within Lancashire, one RSPCA employee has been authorised to request additional information from the PNC via the force’s PNC Bureau. This is usually vehicle data, and must be in respect of an investigation which the RSPCA have the power to conduct. Again, this individual does not have any direct access to the PNC.
Lancashire Constabulary does not currently have a formal Information Sharing Agreement in place with the RSPCA, although work is understood to be underway to create a nationally standardised agreement for all police forces. At present, the RSPCA and its employees can submit requests for the disclosure of relevant information held on the force’s local information systems, providing it can be evidenced that these checks are required in order to investigate a suspected criminal offence, and subject to the assessment of the requested information by the force.

Should the RSPCA require Kent Police to share specific information with them in order to support a ‘policing purpose’, defined as, “protecting life and property, preserving order, preventing the commission of offences, bringing offenders to justice and any duty or responsibility of the police arising from common or statute law” then there is policy and legislation which supports this.
Information relating to this can be found within Kent Police Policy D14, Appendix B which is
available to view at:

The RSPCA may approach the Police for assistance, for example in obtaining a warrant to enter property, etc but they do not have access to any systems.

The RSPCA often have local agreements with Police Forces where they can
ask for checks (mainly PNC) to be done
and if this is the case there would
also be an agreement in place such as a Memorandum of Understanding or
Information Sharing Protocol and it would be a designated Police SPOC to
RSPCA SPOC via the Data Protection Act (DPA) sec 29(3). Any official
request the RSPCA make to the Police would be covered by DPA Sec 29(3) and
risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

No RSPCA staff have access to Police systems. 
However, the Control Room staff  have a file that contains 7 names  and specific details of staff from the RSPCA who can, if they provide all the details relative to their names which we hold on file, and a specific password for their name, we will then conduct certain PNC checks on their behalf.
PNC (Police National Computer) is the only system they are allowed access to under this system of identification.

I have been advised that the RSPCA often have local
agreements with Police Forces where they can ask for checks (mainly PNC)
to be done and if this is the case there would be an agreement in place
such as a Memorandum of Understanding or Information Sharing Protocol and
it would be a designated Police SPOC to RSPCA SPOC via the DPA sec 29(3).
Any official request the RSPCA make to the Police would be covered by DPA
Sec 29(3) and risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

On a case by case base, where lawful authority is demonstrated, R.S.P.C.A. staff may seek access to relevant information on police systems, e.g. under the provisions of section 29(3), Data Protection Act, 1998. Each application would be individually considered.

Your Police Force not listed? You can find a full list of replies to FOI's regarding Police CRB, PNC information etc being shared with the RSPCA here;


The Archbishop of Canterbury has abandoned decades of Church leadership of the RSPCA by rejecting a traditional post at the top of the charity.
The decision by Justin Welby to turn down the role of vice-patron will rock an organisation facing accusations that it has lost its way. A series of court cases has led to claims that it has become too aggressive and politicised in pursuing farmers and vulnerable pet-owners.


For almost 200 years, the RSPCA has been the nation's conscience on animal welfare. But more recently questions are being asked about how the organisation is changing.
There are claims that it is too quick to prosecute vulnerable people - the elderly, people with mental health issues or mobility problems - rather than advising them or helping them better look after their pets. Some never get over the shock of being raided by the police and RSPCA - even if they're later completely cleared of any wrongdoing. They suspect that front page coverage of RSPCA raids may be at least partly motivated by a desire for donation-boosting publicity.
And vets and lawyers claim to have been unfairly targeted because they've stood up against the RSPCA in court.
Face the Facts investigates how the RSPCA is changing and whether it is in danger of losing its way.



A JUDGE who previously worked extensively for the RSPCA has forced the closure of a sanctuary for sick and injured horses that has been used by the police.
The owner, Susan Henderson, is appealing against the judgment after she was banned from working with animals for 10 years, given an eight-week suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay the charity £7,000 costs.
Her solicitor described the sentence as “savage” and criticised the judge (Andrew Meachin) for not declaring that he had worked for the RSPCA until last October.
Simon Hart, the Tory MP and former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said it was “absolutely extraordinary” that the judge had not declared the potential conflict of interest.


The RSPCA is using a sensitive police database nearly 1,500 times a year under a deal giving it privileged access to criminal records.
The animal welfare charity is using the Police National Computer (PNC) an average of 124 times every month in relation to prosecutions it brings.
The scale of its activity raised concerns yesterday as the records are usually regarded as so  sensitive that employers – even in the public sector and involved in working with children – do not have access to them.
Critics accuse the charity of increasing ‘militancy’ by focusing on expensive political stunts  and strong-arm tactics at the expense of its core mission to protect animals.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is to investigate the deal struck in 2010 between the police and the RSPCA.
Under the agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), a private company, the RSPCA can request a criminal record check, paying Acpo at least £35 per search.
Last night Tory MP Simon Hart, former head of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘If any other political organisation had access to the PNC there would be widespread public concern.
‘This is an increasingly politically driven animal rights group which is a shadow of its welfare origins. I will be writing to the Home Secretary and Attorney General to seek clarity as to whether any pressure group can have similar access.’
The deal allows the RSPCA to request information about the criminal records of suspects, witnesses, defendants and victims.
In one 19-month period it made 54 of these detailed checks on the PNC, which would reveal any convictions, cautions, warnings, reprimands and impending prosecutions.
But the bulk of its use of the PNC came as RSPCA officials created fresh records on the database of their own suspects.
During the same 19-month period the charity added 2,311 records of people it intended to prosecute so that their data could be seen by police.
Other organisations holding agreements with Acpo are state bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority and the Food Standards Agency.
The RSPCA, which yesterday revealed that it secured 4,168 animal welfare and cruelty convictions last year, up from 2,441 three years ago, claims it accesses the computer to update records of its prosecutions.
But it has been severely criticised in recent months for being too aggressive in prosecutions and campaigns.
A Conservative councillor who served as election agent for James Gray, a pro-hunting MP, was prosecuted for unlawful hunting, but the case was dropped at the 11th hour. A judge criticised the animal charity for bringing the prosecution even though nobody had seen a fox.
Sir Barney White-Spunner, who heads the Countryside Alliance, called for the RSPCA’s access to police files to be stopped until it is proved lawful.
He said: ‘The RSPCA is neither a public body nor a statutory prosecuting force, it is a campaigning charity with an increasingly militant animal rights agenda.
‘The disclosure of highly personal information held on police databases to the organisation could pose significant risks to the individual concerned.’
An Acpo spokesman said the charity has ‘indirect’ access, which does not include firearms licensing, vehicle registrations or information unrelated to particular prosecutions.

RSPCA accused of using criminal prosecutions to increase revenue

The RSPCA is facing calls to give up its role as a criminal prosecutor following claims that it is using court cases as a means of increasing its revenue.
In the past two years the number of convictions the RSPCA has secured has almost doubled, despite no increase in calls to its cruelty telephone hotline.
Over the same period, donations to the RSPCA have increased by more than 10 per cent, and the salaries of its top executives have rocketed.
Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the charity, admitted to a BBC investigation that there was “a link” between high-profile prosecutions and increased donations, but denied that court cases were used to increase income.
The RSPCA is the second-biggest prosecutor of criminal cases in England and Wales, after the Crown Prosecution Service. Unlike the CPS, which handles cases investigated by the police, the RSPCA acts as both investigator and prosecutor.
Critics say the system is open to abuse, as investigators have a vested interest in seeing their cases successfully prosecuted. They have accused the RSPCA of heavy-handedness, citing cases in which pet owners or animal sanctuaries have been raided on flimsy pretences without any prosecutions resulting. In contrast, the Scottish equivalent of the RSPCA, the SSPCA, passes its case files to the procurator fiscal to ensure impartiality in decisions over prosecution.
Jonathan Rich, a barrister who has defended people prosecuted by the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA needs to stop prosecuting. It needs to put cases together and present them to the CPS.”
David Smith, a vet, said: “I can only think they are after publicity and they think they are going to get more money into the charity.”
In 2010, the RSPCA had 1.63 million calls to its cruelty hotline and secured 2,441 court convictions. By last year, convictions had risen to 4,168 despite calls remaining static. In the same period its charitable income rose from £101 million to £112 million, and the salary of its chief executive increased from about £105,000 (when he was the only member of staff earning more than £100,000) to about £155,000 (when he was one of four staff paid more than £100,000).

Mr Grant told Radio 4’s Face the Facts: “There is a link [between prosecutions and donations] in the sense that a large number of people applaud and are enthusiastic that the RSPCA is prepared to bring animal abusers to justice and are prepared to fund our work.”
But he denied that prosecutions were being used as a shop window for fundraising, saying: “They are a direct way of saying to people out there you should treat animals with compassion and respect.”
The Countryside Alliance has said the charity is becoming increasingly “militant” in its use of prosecutions, many of which were “politically motivated”, such as cases brought against hunt members. Barney White-Spunner, the alliance’s executive chairman, said: “Surely we have a Crown Prosecution Service precisely to prevent that sort of abuse?”

The BBC also claimed that the RSPCA tried to discredit defence witnesses. Mr Grant said there was “no place for smears or innuendo” in the charity.

Monday, 20 May 2013


The RSPCA tried to ruin my life, says top barrister: A decade of accusations - and a £1m legal bill to defend his good name

  •  Jonathan Rich, defended hundreds of people against RSPCA over 20 years
  • Friend of Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, an RSPCA inspector turned whistleblower
  • She accused the charity of destroying her character
  • She was found hanged at her home this month

Cambridge-educated Jonathan Rich, who defended hundreds of people against the RSPCA over 20 years, said he has spent almost £1million defending professional allegations made by the charity
Jonathan Rich, Persecuted by the RSPCA
A leading barrister yesterday claimed he had been forced to stop working on cases involving the RSPCA because the charity tried to ‘ruin’ his life with spurious complaints.
Cambridge-educated Jonathan Rich, who defended hundreds of people against the RSPCA over 20 years, said he has spent almost £1million defending professional allegations made by the charity about his conduct.

He was a friend of Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, an RSPCA inspector turned whistleblower who also accused the charity of destroying her character.
She was found hanged at her home this month.
Yesterday Mr Rich, 46, said times had been ‘very tough’ and he might have suffered the same fate, were it not for his resolve and the love and support of his family.
‘I think the RSPCA were probably working on the basis that I wouldn’t be as strong as I proved to be,’ Mr Rich told the Daily Mail.
‘My insurers and I have spent a lot of money defending their claims and I’ve been through some very, very tough times, but I’ve got a  fantastic wife who has been very supportive and my family have got me through.

‘Other people faced with what I have had to contend with might well have killed themselves.
‘I am not ashamed to say I have been treated for reactive depression as a result of my ordeal. Two years ago I nearly died from a stress-related condition.’

Mr Rich, a contemporary of the Prime Minister at Eton and a Tory councillor, said problems began around 2003 when the  charity made the first of several formal and informal complaints linked to cases he was defending.
‘For two decades I had a superb track record, I won a lot of cases against the RSPCA, but it started to get vicious in the noughties,’ Mr Rich, a father of three, added.
‘I really believe everybody has the right to a defence and targeting a lawyer really is not a legitimate strategy. They set out  to ruin me.
‘While I would love to carry on I am very, very tired of fighting them. I felt I had no choice but to stop taking cases involving the RSPCA for my own well-being and that of  my family.’ 
Mr Rich’s comments will put further pressure on the charity, which has been criticised for recent high-profile, expensive legal cases and an aggressive publicity campaign. 
It is currently being investigated by the Charity Commission over its stance against badger culling and live animal exports.
Last November Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, wrote a Twitter message to Mr Rich, saying: ‘Please remind me why you no longer defend animal abusers against RSPCA prosecutions? We’ve +98% success rate as you know.’
rspca page.jpg

The barrister, who also practises property and commercial law, said the tweet was indicative of an organisation that was concerned with animal rights ‘but has little regard for humanity’. 
In the past ten years the charity has made two direct complaints of professional misconduct against Mr Rich to the Bar Standards Board, while another nine have been made by people working on cases involving the RSPCA. The charity claims it played no role in these.
Mr Rich, who has never had a  single complaint made about his conduct by any other organisation or individual in 24 years at the  Bar, said all had been dropped,  dismissed or struck out and he had never faced a full hearing. Three remain active.
He and Miss Aubrey-Ward, whose character was publicly attacked  by the charity after she accused it of putting healthy dogs to sleep because they were deemed not suitable for rehoming, became friends because of their treatment by the RSPCA.
‘We were both going through the same sort of nightmare with the same assailant,’ Mr Rich said.
‘It was a relief for me to find  someone like her to talk to and she told me she felt the same. I feel a terrible sense of loss.’ 

A spokesman for the RSPCA said it made complaints only in ‘extreme circumstances and following established processes’. 
She added: ‘The RSPCA has secured nearly 10,000 convictions in the magistrates’ courts in the past three years alone and, to our knowledge, Mr Rich is the only  barrister the RSPCA has ever  complained about in terms of professional conduct.’
Last December the RSPCA was criticised by a judge after it emerged it had spent a ‘staggering’ £326,000 on a magistrates’ court prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt, David Cameron’s local hunt in Oxfordshire.
Earlier this month another judge said it had wasted court time in a case concerning a hunt linked to a pro-hunting Tory councillor. 
The legal action cost the charity £50,000 but resulted in two fines of just £300.