The 3 P's of animal welfare investigations: Powers, Planning, Prosecution

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Have you heard the saying “prevention is better than cure”?

 It seems that training budgets are one of the first things being cut in the current economic climate, which is a pity given the fact that in “tough times”:

  • People start cutting corners, which
  • Usually leads to more problems (not less)
  • And of course, you’re still accountable for providing quality deliverables around animal welfare compliance

 Sound familiar?

Have you seen the attention in the media to issues involving animal welfare?

Yes, animal welfare is just one of many areas the Local Authority is responsible for, but it’s obviously an important area for lots of reasons.  With the cutbacks, it may not be possible to send the whole team to a seminar that covers the critical things your Inspectors must be complying with in respect of animal welfare, but perhaps the Local Authority could send one or two people.

The seminar combines the key points of two very valuable seminars provided by Animal Law Professional Development which is the education department of International Animal Law:

  • The powers and responsibilities of Inspectors under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and
  • How to run a good animal welfare investigation.

The topic names obviously illustrate the importance of the information. You can have a closer look at the content of each of the two separate seminars previously provided by Animal Law by looking at  "How to conduct a good animal welfare investigation" and "Powers and responsibilities of Inspectors under the Animal Welfare Act 2006".

Your Presenters

The seminars are being co-presented by legal specialists Phil Wilson (Prosecutions Manager and RSPCA Inspector Trainer) of the RSPCA, and Ian Robertson (Specialist Animal Welfare Prosecutor and Law Lecturer) of International Animal Law. 

Phil Wilson

Chief Investigator, Prosecutions, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Phil Wilson is a Prosecutions Case Manager with the RSPCA. He has over 20 years experience in animal welfare law enforcement and holds a certificate in prosecution case management from Ilex. Phil lectures widely on enforcement, investigation and prosecution issues surrounding many aspects of animal welfare in the UK and Europe.  Phil provides support and advice within the RSPCA and to police officers, local authorities and other animal welfare organisations.


Ian Robertson

Prosecutor, Law Lecturer, Director of International Animal Law (IAL)

Ian Robertson is the unusual professional combination of a qualified veterinarian and a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court (NZ), who has combined his professional training and practical experience to become an internationally recognised expert on animal law. He lectures the subject of animals and the law in law schools and veterinary schools, including the School of Law in Leeds. He is the Director of International Animal Law and a government prosecutor dealing with animal welfare offences. 


 “Both speakers worked very well together and had detailed knowledge of the legislation. Thank you”
Helen Curry, City of York Council 

“Phil and Ian are great. Very informative and very useful. Obvious experts”.
Colin Offland, Rushcliffe Borough Council 

Topics covered will include:


  • Overview of the Animal Welfare Act 2006: Putting the legal role, powers and obligations of Local Authorities/Inspectors in context with a “big picture” overview of the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Powers of Inspectors (sections 18-31) because administration and enforcement officers must be clear about what they can and can not do, under the Act. It is vitally important that Inspectors apply their powers in a procedurally correct manner - mix-ups around sections relied upon to seize an animal, for example, have resuted in substantial additional costs for Local Authorties in the past.
  • Post conviction (sections 32-45) because, as with many Animal Welfare Act obligations, the involvement of officers does not end simply with a conviction.


  • Defining an investigation: Assessing what defines the elements, and criteria of, a criminal investigation.
  • Foundational law: The legal ground rules and standards that are foundational to an investigation.
  • Investigation plan: Reviews the five investigation steps which form the foundation to efficiently starting a case with a view to prosecution.
  • Procedure, Recording, and Enforcement: Addresses the requirements for drafting statements, as well as attention to potential problems and common oversights.
  • Presenting evidence: Includes attention to types of evidence including the use of film evidence.
  • The Power of the Debrief: How to effectively post-mortem an investigation/prosecution. 


It often comes down to the money doesn’t it? Before we get down to the costs though, take a moment to consider:

  • How much does your Local Authority spend on animal welfare investigations and prosecutions?
  • And how much does it cost when something – even one thing – goes wrong? Either with the evidence collection, the search warrant, the lack of compliance with procedure, or one of a hundred other things that you’ve looked back on sometimes with exasperation, sometimes embarrassment, but always with a price-tag attached?

Now compare those costs with the price of the seminar which shows you how to avoid the common - and potentially expensive - pitfalls. 

The seminar price covers your attendance and all the materials, unlimited coffee, tea and soft drinks served with homemade cakes or fresh pastries, plus a buffet lunch on each day of the TWO day seminar.

Still not sure?

This is so very much more than those courses where a couple of speakers are thrown together to have a chat about animal welfare. Have a look at the comments below, and see who you might know from the list of people who have already attended:

 “One of the best training courses I’ve attended in 15 years of Animal Health work”
Gill McGregor, City of York Council 

  “Extremely relevant seminar. Information learnt can now be put in to practice in the work place immediately.”
Helen Curry, Animal Health Officer, City of York Council 

 “Extremely well delivered and one of the best courses I have been on. Relevant, informative and interesting which, considering the amount of legislation being discussed, is even more impressive.”
Kate Fitzsimons, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

 “I would like to stress how good I think this seminar was… it made us think about the Animal Welfare Act in a practical sense and I have come away from the seminar much more aware of the Act and what I can do”
Jane Taylor, Animal Health Officer, City of York Council

 “All content of course was very in depth and most useful. Better than any other Animal Welfare Act course and money well spent.”
Anthony Hoggins, Newcastle City Council 

Who Should Attend

This seminar series is for all officers directly or indirectly involved with administration and enforcement of Animal Welfare legislation, including:

  • Local Authority appointed Inspectors
  • Lawyers and other legal representatives
  • Appointed Animal Welfare Inspectors
  • Animal welfare managers and officers
  • Dog wardens and rangers
  • Licensing managers and officers
  • Environmental managers and officers
  • Local Authority Veterinarians
  • Pest control managers and officers

=  all those people working in compliance and enforcement of animal welfare.  

 “Every officer involved in animal welfare must attend this seminar.”
Ibrahim Walker, Enforcement Manager, Lincoln Borough of Merton 

 “Excellent presentation and a must to go to.”
Mark Berry, Principal LHD, Stockton BC 

Dates and Location

Host: St Helens Council
Dates:17th -18th September 2012
Location: St Helens Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens WA10 1HE

Diane Foreman
Principal Environmental Health Officer
St Helens Council
Telephone: 01744 676236


We're confident that the people that attend this seminar will be saying the same sort of thing as Ralph Walling, Team Leader of the Environmental Health Team at  Southampton City Council, who said:

 “When my colleagues ask me about the seminar I will tell them it was really good - and then I will go on and on about it until they’ve had enough.”

Please Forward To Your Team and Colleagues

Experience has shown that having two or more people from the same Local Authority increases the learning because they have the opportunity to discuss the course materials with each other after the seminar. Consequently, we recommend that you take just a few moments to send this link to three or four of your colleagues and other team members to give them the opportunity to consider attending this seminar, and enable them to get their own notifications of further seminars provided by IAL.