Animal cruelty reports should not be ignored or delayed because the responsibility to investigate is delegated to a not-for-profit organisation such as the RSPCA. We will establish a dedicated animal crime division of the police force.
It’s outrageous to imagine that the police force would rely on fundraising to prevent human crime. However this is the case for charities working to prevent animal crime. In Victoria, not-for-profits such as the RSPCA are currently responsible for investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty; not the police.
This system is fundamentally flawed. It results in decisions made to prosecute certain cruelty cases over others based on budgetary restrictions. This is not an effective system for deterring future acts of cruelty, and it’s not what the community expects.
In 2020–21, the RSPCA investigated 10,745 animal cruelty complaints in Victoria. Only a small minority (.5%) of complaints led to prosecution because the RSPCA favour assistance and education to promote animal welfare rather than prosecution. This plays an important role in preventing neglect and cruelty - but we need a two-pronged approach.
The Animal Justice Party will establish an Animal Crime Division within Victoria Police. The new division will be tasked with the role of investigating and prosecuting acts of animal cruelty. RSPCA figures show increasing rates of animal crime. Anecdotally, we know that crimes against animals can escalate into crimes against humans. An Animal Crime Division will meet community expectations in dealing with animal crime effectively which will have the benefit of being a deterrent and potentially preventing further escalating crime against humans.
A Parliamentary Budget Office report commissioned by the Animal Justice Party found that it would cost $50.7 million to establish this division. This policy would not affect Victorian Government funding provided to the RSPCA and local councils, but would redirect the animal welfare funding from Agriculture Victoria to Victoria Police.
Currently animal welfare is incorporated in a portfolio under the Minister for Agriculture . It is crucial to separate animal welfare from animal agriculture to ensure there is no conflict of interest, and to maintain transparency when it comes to making decisions for animals. Ideally, the Animal Crime Division will report to a new portfolio under a Minister for Animal Protection.
- Create an Animal Crime Division within Victoria Police
- Enforce animal cruelty prosecutions in line with community expectations
- Appoint a Minister for Animal Protection dedicated to animal welfare