21 Jul 2009 11:43 AM
Animals (scientific procedures) act 1986

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 21 July 2009

Open and transparent regulation:

Publication of the latest statistics on animal research and the Animal Scientific Procedures Inspectorate Annual Report 2008

Annual statistics on the use of animals in scientific research have been published by the Home Office today.

The "Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals 2008” is compiled from returns provided by project licence holders covering scientific procedures performed using living animals subject to the provisions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The latest figures show:

* The number of procedures started in 2008 was just under 3.7 million, a rise of approximately 14 per cent (454,000) on 2007. This was largely due to the increase in essential biological research, applied studies and breeding for the production of genetically altered animals;

* The large majority of procedures – 77 per cent – used mice, rats and other rodents;

* Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates were used in less than 1 per cent of the procedures;

* The number of procedures using dogs fell by 1,400 (-18 per cent). The number of procedures using cats was 360, an increase of 50, the majority of which were (as previously) for veterinary studies;

* The number of procedures using new-world primates fell by 410 (-53 per cent), part of a downward trend since 1999 and corresponding to 350 fewer animals used. The number of procedures using old-world primates rose by 1050 (+33 per cent), and corresponded to an increase of 580 animals used.

The UK is widely regarded as having one of the most rigorous systems of animal protection in the world. The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulates the use of animals in scientific experiments and ensures their use is limited to procedures where there is a clear potential benefit to people, animals or the environment; and when there is no means of obtaining these benefits without animal use, or at a lesser animal welfare cost.

Home Office Minister Lord West said:

"We are proud to have one of the highest standards of animal protection in the world and we are determined to keep it that way.

“Today’s statistics show an increase in the number of procedures being undertaken, and the overall level of scientific procedures is determined by a number of factors, including the economic climate and global trends in scientific endeavour. It is important to stress that in accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 the use of animals for scientific purposes can only be authorised when it is the only option and can be shown to be justified.

“As the regulator we ensure that a proper balance between animal welfare and scientific advancement is maintained; and that the regulatory system is effective, efficient and impartial.

"Advances with non-animal test methods continue to be made, but at present licensed animal use remains essential to develop improved health-care technologies.”

For the first time this year the Home Office has published a joint “Animals (Scientific Procedures) Division (ASPD) and Inspectorate (ASPI) Annual Report 2008”. The report provides a collective account of many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ activities of the Home Office staff who regulate this work.

The ASPD operates the licensing system on behalf of the Secretary of State and provides policy advice and support, whilst the statutory role of the ASPI is to advise on proposals for work under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and to monitor compliance with authorities under that Act.

During 2008 the combined efforts of the Division and Inspectorate:

* Provided advice on 695 project licence applications, 2,865 personal licence applications, two applications for certificates to designate establishments for scientific work, and 5,940 requests for amendments to licences and certificates;

* Carried out 2,088 (mainly unannounced) visits to places where scientific work on animals was conducted;

* Spent 5,783 hours on site conducting inspections and advising on the use of animals in research.

All scientists and researchers undertaking animal research in the UK are required to take into account the '3Rs' (measures to replace, reduce, and refine animal use) when devising their programmes of research proposals. Furthermore the Secretary of State may not authorise animal use when the scientific objectives can be met by means not using animals; and, when work is licensed, all reasonable steps must be taken to minimise the numbers of animals used and any suffering likely to be caused.

In 2004 the Government established the National Centre for the 3Rs to provide a focal point and resources for such activities.

Last November the European Commission published its proposal to revise Directive 86/609/EEC in order to strengthen and harmonise the regulation of the use of animals used in scientific experiments across Europe.

To help shape the UK’s formal negotiating position the Home Office recently launched an eight week public consultation, which closed on the 3 July, seeking views on the Commission's proposal. A summary of the responses will be published on the Home Office website shortly.

Notes to editors:

1. The statistical report is published by Home Office as part of the National Statistics programme of work, subject to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics under the Statistics and Registration Act 2007. The main points of the statistical report, and a link to the report and supplementary information is on the Home Office website and can be found at: http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/publications-and-reference/statistics/

2. Abstracts of project licences can be found at: http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/publications-and-reference/001-abstracts/

3. The Government announced the establishment of a National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research on 21 May 2004 (Home Office press notice 195/2004). More information can be found from its website at: www.nc3rs.org.uk

4. The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate (ASPI) is part of the Animals Scientific Procedures Division within the Home Office. ASPI Inspectors are employed as civil servants to provide technical advice to the Home Secretary and to the ASPD officials who operate the licensing system and provide policy advice to Ministers. They also maintain a programme of inspections of work carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and inspect the facilities where animals for this work are bred and used.

5. In November 2008 the European Commission published its proposal to replace Directive 86/609/EEC and this can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/proposal_en.htm

6. The eight week public consultation on the European Commission's proposal for a new Directive to strengthen the protection of animals used in scientific experiments closed on 3 July 2009. The consultation paper can be found on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/haveyoursay/current-consultations/

140/2009

Contacts:

Home Office Press Office
Phone: 020 7035 3535
NDS.HO@coi.gsi.gov.uk