I am pleased that we have moved to Step 2 of the Prime Minister’s COVID Response Roadmap, this is great news. Long may it continue!
It is also great to be back in Westminster after such a long break where the only way of working was via video links. Although there are advantages to video meetings, I have missed the opportunities to informally lobby Ministers and colleagues. Such meetings are very important, and their value is often overlooked.
I think we have all reflected, this year, on our lives and what is important to us. For most of us the focus has been our families and for many their pets.
Anecdotally, many people are concerned about a possible rise in dog theft during the lockdown, so I am not surprised that I have received a lot of emails in support of the Pet Theft Campaign. This campaign aims to make pet theft a specific criminal offence and is one I fully support. The theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment, but in practice that is rarely handed down and it is not enough of a deterrent. We have to distinguish between the theft of an object and theft of a pet. It is a totally different situation.
A separate offence would also enable the specific theft of a pet to be logged and counted which would give us a better idea of the prevalence of this horrible crime.
The theft of a much-loved family pet is hugely traumatic and must be taken seriously and we need tougher sentences.
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