Ahead of a requirement for all equines in England to be microchipped by 1 October, agencies are coming together to educate owners. H&H speaks to Nottinghamshire Police, Nottinghamshire County Council trading standards and World Horse Welfare about recent efforts...
Joint efforts to tackle concerns over horse identification ahead of new microchip legislation have been hailed a success as agencies aim to send out a strong message to owners.
Nottinghamshire Police, Derbyshire Constabulary and trading standards from both counties carried out microchip checks on horses across multiple locations on 14 February. Of 61 horses scanned, 20 had chips. The operation was held ahead of legislation requiring all equines in England to be microchipped, which comes into force on 1 October.
PC Sarah Murdoch, of Nottinghamshire Police, told H&H the day was planned following concerns raised by the public and a spate of unchipped horses being dumped in 2019.
“The aim was to provide advice and gauge who was compliant with the legislation already,” she said. “We wanted to send the message that we are doing these checks, and will continue to do them so you need to toe the line, and if your horse isn’t microchipped you must comply by October.”
PC Murdoch, who runs the Nottinghamshire Police Horse Watch, said the day was a success – with more planned before and after 1 October – but added the number of chipped horses was “surprisingly” low.
“The legislation can be quite confusing, and I accept that,” she said. “For horses without microchips owners have been sent letters of advice, or a note was left on the field or yard entrance explaining the requirements to make them absolutely clear.”
The current legislation in England states that equines born after 30 June 2009 must already be microchipped, but those of all ages must be chipped as of 1 October.
“The operation also gave us an opportunity to visit areas where we have taken photographs of horses, including distinguishing markings, so should a horse turn up dumped or fly-grazed, we have a database against which we can cross-reference. We know there are thousands of horses in the area, but it’s a starting point.”
James Delaney of Nottinghamshire County Council trading standards told H&H the department is intelligence-led and relies on the public raising concerns about horses.
“We can’t act on everything, but we record it and when it comes to planning days of action we will use the information to prioritise areas to visit,” he said.
“In order to effectively enforce the legislation we have to look at it from a multi-agency perspective. We want to discourage the wider practices of dumping horses and fly-grazing, and by tightening the grip on identification we hope to see an impact there.”
World Horse Welfare deputy chief executive Tony Tyler told H&H the charity “applauds” the joint approach and proactivity.
“We urge other agencies to follow their example. No law is worth the paper it’s printed on unless it is enforced, and enforcement can send a very strong message,” he said.
“We have a real opportunity for an effective system of equine identification but we won’t see the benefits unless everyone does their bit, including owners and enforcement agencies.”
You may also be interested in…
‘Previous legislation has been half-baked but the new regulations are not only positive for horse owners, but are a significant
The new law has been introduced today by Defra, but owners have until 2020 to comply
For several years now, all horses in the UK have had to be microchipped by law, except for a few
UK groups against microchipping legislation for native breeds
A recent case of two thoroughbreds found alive after they were recorded as dead on the Weatherbys database has highlighted