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What would be required of a Police Constable?

Direct number for Police

RSPCA's National Control Centre
0300 123 8008
8am-8pm (for emergency services only)




 It all depends on the situation and the animals and/or suspects involved, here are some examples:
  • RSPCA has intelligence that the occupant(s) are potentially aggressive/violent and/or believed to have weapons. 
  • An animal has been left unattended and the RSPCA has been unable to remove the animal by any other lawful means. 
  • RSPCA suspect that there is an animal is in a suffering state - section 4 offence- (S4 AWA 2006) or an animal is likely to suffer if their circumstances do not change- (S9 AWA 2006), and the owner or person responsible will not give the RSPCA permission to remove the animal to a veterinary centre or place of safety.
  • RSPCA need assistance to gain lawful entry to a premises, where it is believed that there is a protected animal on that premises and that the animal is suffering or is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change.
  • The RSPCA has lawfully removed the animal (owner has given permission for RSPCA to take, but will not sign the animal over) which now requires to be taken into possession under 18(5) AWA 2006 or Seized under S19 PACE by a police constable who would leave said animal in RSPCA care to treat and investigate the offences. (in some circumstances the animal may be at a veterinary centre, RSPCA/boarding establishment or in the RSPCA officers van and sometimes could transport the animal to a police station)
  • An animal has been certified by a veterinary surgeon that the animal is such that is should in its own interests be destroyed, then a police constable can use section 18(3) AWA 2006 to have said animal destroyed (give permission to the vet to euthanase the animal)
  • A deceased animal needs to be seized under 19 PACE so RSPCA can lawfully hold onto the body and if needed be sent for a post mortem. 
  • Assistance to obtain and execute a warrant under Section 23 Animal Welfare Act 2006.
  • The RSPCA officer needs to book an interview room for a voluntary attender.

Taking into Possession

S18(5) and (6) AWA 2006

Under section 18(5) AWA 2006 An inspector or a constable may take a protected animal into possession if a veterinary surgeon certifies:

(a) that it is suffering, or
(b) that it is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change.

In some situations the RSPCA will have the certification from the vet by way of a "Veterinary Certificate" 

This certificate is completed by a qualified veterinary surgeon, who will give an opinion that either:
  1. The animal is suffering or
  2. The animal is likely to suffer if circumstances do not change.
   Example of veterinary certificate
Additionally, section 18(6) states; An inspector or a constable may act under subsection (5) without the certificate of a veterinary surgeon if it appears to him:

(a) that the animal is suffering or that it is likely to do so if its circumstances do not change, and
(b) that the need for action is such that it is not reasonably practicable to wait for a veterinary surgeon.

It is good practice for the Police Constable to sign the certificate to confirm they have had sight of it and to take a photo for their records. 

If it has not been possible to obtain veterinary certification or if the animal is deceased then Section 19 PACE would be used provided that the animal or remains are required as evidence.  

Following this, an MG11 would be required, in most circumstances the animal will already have an RSPCA exhibit number which would usually be the RSPCA officers initials followed by a number e.g. Inspector Tom Jones the exhibit number will be TJ/1. If the animal has been taken into possession under the AWA 2006 then the wording needed would be something along the lines of:

I am police constable 1234 Jones. On __/__/__ at….. I viewed the veterinary certificate signed by Veterinary Surgeon Dr …. I then took TJ/1 a black bulldog into possession under 18(5) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 leaving it in the care of the RSPCA.

It is important to use the wording "taken into possession" and not "seized" as you may be called as a witness to give evidence, as the defence may challenge your understanding of the Powers used under the AWA 2006. 


Section 18(3) AWA 2006 

 If in the veterinary surgeon's opinion, the animal is in such a condition that it should in its own interest be destroyed (put to sleep to alleviate suffering) then the vet will highlight this on the certificate:
  1. The condition of the animal is such that it in its own interest be destroyed.
The police constable would then use Section 18(3) AWA 2006

If a veterinary surgeon certifies that the condition of a protected animal is such that it should in its own interests be destroyed, an inspector or a constable may:

(a) destroy the animal where it is or take it to another place and destroy it there, 
(b) arrange for the doing any of the things mentioned in paragraph (a)Powers of entry

Powers of entry

What type of premises are you dealing with?

Section 62 provides the definition and interpretation of words and expressions used throughout the act and states that premises means any place and, in particular:

(a) any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft;
(b) any tent or movable structure. The definition does include any private dwelling which includes any yard, garden, garage or outhouse which is used for the purposes in connection with it, but private dwellings can not be entered under s19(1) without a warrant.

If the premises are not a private dwelling e.g allotment, land, smallholding, vehicle, etc and there is known to be a protected animal that is suffering/likely to suffer then S19 AWA 2006 can be used:- powers of entry in relation to for S18 purposes only (animals in distress).

(1) An inspector or a constable may enter premises for the purpose of searching for a protected animal and of exercising any power under section 18 in relation to it if he reasonably believes:

(a) that there is a protected animal on the premises, and
(b) that the animal is suffering or, if the circumstances of the animal do not change, it is likely to suffer.

There are no powers of entry to any private dwelling under the AWA 2006 without a warrant. If the property is a private dwelling and the animal is in an extreme condition and it is not reasonably practicable to await for a warrant then Section 17 PACE could be used.

Section 17(1)(e) allows without prejudice to any other enactment, a constable to enter and search any premises for the purpose of saving life or limb or preventing serious damage to property.

If the above does not apply then a Warrant under S23 AWA 2006 should be obtained. 

View example of a warrant used