The RSPCA should continue its role as a prosecuting body, so says an independent review that concluded this week.
However, the organisation has accepted it needs to adapt its approach to law enforcement.
The review was ordered in January after more than a year of criticism against the RSPCA’s legal activities.
Former chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, Stephen Wooler, was hired to spend four months looking into how prosecutions are taken forward by the charity.
The results of the review were released today (1 October) and acknowledged the “substantial and important” role undertaken by the RSPCA in enforcing animal welfare legislation — but made 33 recommendations on its investigation and prosecution activity.
RSPCA chairman Mike Tomlinson said: “This report underlines the vital work undertaken by us and demanded by the public to investigate animal welfare issues in England and Wales, but we accept the need to adapt our approach to meet modern expectations of transparency and accountability in law enforcement.”
One of the criticisms being levelled at the RSPCA was the amount of money spent on prosecutions under the Hunting Act.
In December 2012, the RSPCA was heavily criticised by a judge for its £326,000 case against the Heythrop, which was defended in the report.
“Hunting prosecutions are a tiny part of our enforcement work but this review provides an ideal opportunity to look at the way we handle such cases and to make any necessary adjustments,” Mr Tomlinson added.
“Significantly, the review found that our prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt had been appropriately brought and was not politically motivated.
“We accept the criticism that the costs of that case were much too high and have implemented lessons learned in subsequent cases.”