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Investigating animal cruelty

It is our inspectors who investigate complaints of animal cruelty and neglect.

With their specialist skills, our inspectors are able to resolve the vast majority of these complaints by providing advice, assistance and support to people who need help in looking after their animals.

But, sadly, our inspectors also have to deal with some very serious cases of animal suffering, or people who won't respond to attempts to improve the welfare of their animals.

In these and other types of cases, including large-scale organised and commercial animal cruelty, we would consider if prosecution is an appropriate course of action.

Gathering evidence 

When RSPCA inspectors have reason to believe that an offence has been committed, they prepare a case file containing evidence such as witness statements, photographs, and veterinary or other expert advice.

We, unlike the police, have no special powers to gather evidence.

But we use the law to ensure any evidence gathered can be used in court.

Once the investigation is complete, the file is submitted to our prosecutions team, who consider whether the case ought to be prosecuted.

Find out more

Learn more about the work of our prosecutions team and how we decide to prosecute.

Find out more