It is now a criminal offence in the UK to target any scientist, research facility or company in the supply chain with a campaign of unlawful acts including criminal damage, trespass, blackmail and libel. The offence carries the penalty of up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
"People have a right to campaign lawfully against the use of animals in scientific research, but they do not have the right to engage in acts of intimidation or violence against individuals and firms working in this area. These new measures will help to stamp out the abhorrent campaigns of harassment and intimidation that a minority of extremists are engaged in and will protect those engaged in legitimate, lawful work. We will not allow animal rights extremists to threaten these people and the vital work they do." a spokesman said.
The UK has one of the tightest regulatory control systems on animal testing in the world. A rigorous licensing system, ensuring that permission is granted only when there is no alternative, is implemented by frequent inspections and training to maintain the best possible conditions for animals.
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act will combat campaigns of "economic damage" often aimed at companies and communities that are associated with animal research facilities. It is now a criminal offence to disrupt the lawful functioning of a company, or other organisation holding a research or breeding licence, through unlawful means.
The Act also includes measures to prevent harassment of individuals, such as those associated with research facilities including:
a new offence of harassment of a person at their home which gives police additional powers to deal with intimidatory behaviour by individuals towards a person in their home;
an amendment to section 42 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to give police an additional power to direct a person to leave the vicinity and not return within such period as the constable may specify, up to three months; and
amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to make it an offence to harass two or more people on separate occasions where the purpose is to persuade them or someone else not to do something they are entitled to do or to do something which they have no obligation to do; and clarification of who can seek an injunction.