How is animal research controlled?
Oxford University claim:
The UK has some of the tightest regulations in the world to ensure that animals used for research are well cared for and that those looking after them adhere to the highest standards. Three levels of licence are required: all animal laboratories must be licensed; all the people working with animals must be trained and have personal licences from the Home Office; and every research project is judged on the balance of cost and benefit before it is licensed. Home Office inspectors frequently check conditions and can suspend work if they fail to meet strict animal welfare standards, or if there is any infringement of a licence.
Special local ethics panels, which normally include at least one person (usually more) not involved in research, must scrutinise applications for project licences to ensure they meet ethical criteria before they are passed to the Home Office for further scrutiny. This process usually takes many months. Researchers must use the minimum number of animals and must prove that animals are necessary and that no alternative exists before they can get a licence.
Fewer than 30 Home Office inspectors are expected to oversee almost three million animal experiments throughout the UK’s 300 research institutes. That could help to explain why they almost never uncover any animal welfare contraventions. Several high profile cases of severe animal suffering and abuse have been uncovered by leaked documents and undercover footage. So much for Home Office scrutiny.
An example of the ineffectiveness of the animal welfare laws is the case last year in which police investigated a leading animal researcher at Oxford University for cruelty to a monkey. Despite the fact that he had committed a clear breach of several animal welfare laws, the CPS failed to prosecute the criminal.