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Animal Experiments: Violence

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of legislation to deter violent action against research facilities that use animals in their testing; (154373)

(2) if she will review the effectiveness of the law on the use of blackmail in the context of the activities of protesters against research facilities that use animals in their testing;

(3) how many convictions there have been for criminal acts for which responsibility was claimed by the Animal Liberation Front;

(4) what discussions she has had with zoos and aquariums on security protection from animal rights extremists.

The Government are committed to eradicating the threat of animal rights extremism and has in place a robust interdepartmental strategy to achieve this. The strategy is centred on an improved law enforcement approach, with additional resources provided to the police to tackle animal rights extremism, a central police team set-up to drive forward police action nationally, and legislation enacted to protect animal research organisations. The strategy has been overseen by a Cabinet Committee which has been encouraged by the significant fall in illegal extremist activity, and the many significant convictions of animal rights extremists in the past 18 months, some for blackmail. A number of other animal rights extremists are awaiting trial and other major investigations remain ongoing.

While the Government respect, support and will protect the right to peaceful protest, we are equally clear that it is wholly unacceptable that a very small number of animal extremists should mount campaigns of fear and intimidation in an attempt to stop individuals and companies going about their lawful and legitimate business whether it is connected with animal research, farming or zoos and aquariums. The Government will continue to drive and review the strategy to eradicate the extremist threat.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to shut down the websites of the (a) Animal Liberation Front and (b) Animal Liberation Front Suppliers Group under the Terrorism Act 2006. (154374)

The investigation and prosecution of offences under the Terrorism Act 2006 (including offences involving websites) are matters for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service respectively.