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Monday, 20 October 2008

MIND CONDEMNS RSPCA PROSECUTIONS


By Katharine Quarmby


Disability Now has gathered evidence that Britain’s best-known animal charity, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), often prosecutes disabled people for alleged animal welfare offences.

Many pet owners, in partic­ular those with mental health problems, have been prosec­uted. The effect of the trial and media coverage on them can be harrowing. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) tends not to prosecute disabled people. Its code for crown prosecutors states: “Crown prosecutors must balance the desirability of diverting a defendant who is suffering from significant mental or physical ill health with the need to safeguard the general public.”

Mind’s policy officer Anna Bird said that it was worrying that a “high” number of people with mental health problems appear to be being prosecuted by the RSPCA. Lawrence Butterford, a pet owner and mental health nurse who has experienced mental distress, said: “I am saddened that the RSPCA cannot accept that pets can play an important role in keeping people with depression well…it sounds extreme to prosecute people with depression.” He added that animals must be protected from neglect but that prosecution was not the answer.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said that the charity did not target disabled people for prosecution but admitted that it did not keep statistics on how many defendants had impairments.

3 comments:

Mandy said...

How very sad, people with mental illnes need help not dragging though the courts, I suppose it will take someone being prosecuted to commit suicide due to the stress before anyone takes notice !

Anonymous said...

Well I donate to MIND and not to the RSPCA, and I never will again.

Gonzo said...

this is why a separate level of check is required, the CPS tend not to prosecute people with mental illness, depression etc, but then they are not a charity, and dont get donations because of the publicity from a prosecution, do they !