Are RSPCA moans about Ammonia a Prosecution Scam?

When the RSPCA go out on a raid the resulting press releases often talk about the “strong smell of ammonia” and how their “eyes were watering and their throat was sore”.

Do you notice that these are all subjective comments? Do you find it strange that an organisation that turns up with the police who apply for warrants for the RSPCA, vets who are often shipped in from miles away or not even specialists in the animals concerned but are regularly used by the prosecution, video equipment and cameras, and of course, sufficient transport to take the animals away, sometimes all over the country to pre-booked accommodation, never seems to bring along the means of measuring the actual ppm (parts per million) of ammonia in the air at the premises?

Why do you think this is? Why do you think that the courts never ask for actual measurements? Could it be that such equipment is too expensive for the RSPCA to afford?

Portable ammonia gas detectors come in all budget ranges as a quick internet search will tell you, ranging from a few pounds in price to tens of thousands of pounds.

They will give readings in minutes, print outs, transmit their data to a computer, and are incredibly accurate. They were developed because of the health and safety needs of industries where leaks of ammonia gas are a hazard to human health.

So why doesn’t the RSPCA carry them around as a matter of course? They report ammonia presence regularly, so must expect it when they go out on a raid.

Accurate readings would, after all, remove all subjectivity created by the fact that some people are more sensitive to ammonia in the air than others and that frequent exposure can sensitise an individual so that they react when most people would not.

Strangely, the people accused of having ammonia ridden premises are often ill, elderly and frail, the very people who would be expected to be most at risk from ammonia inhalation and yet it is the young, healthy RSPCA employees and their expert vets who claim to react so badly.

Readings could be taken at various heights in the premises. A necessity because ammonia is lighter than air and rises, so that, just as in a fire where children are running around on the floor unharmed the adults keel over from the smoke, ammonia levels could affect humans at head height while the animals at floor level are perfectly happy in relatively clear air.

Accurate readings would also be useful in assessing the differences in reactivity for different species. They all have their own ranges of susceptibility to ammonia. What irritates an RSPCA employee might be fatal to one species and harmless to another. Just as miners in the past would take a canary down into the mines with them because the canary would collapse before the toxic gases in the mine had any effect on the people and so served as a warning to get out quickly.

Surely the RSPCA tales the health and safety of its employees seriously? Isn’t that alone sufficient reason to supply everyone with ammonia gas detection meters?

The photos supplied with the press releases, or even photos taken by the media who somehow manage to turn up to so many RSPCA “raids” might show the RSPCA and the vets wearing masks, but sometimes the photos have shown them just wearing dust masks which would not be effective against ammonia and yet have somehow allowed them to remain in the premises for hours at a time.

The SHG advises anyone who keeps a number of animals to invest in an ammonia gas detection meter, to keep records of the levels detected in their premises, and to supply these to their legal team if they are ever raided and prosecuted by the RSPCA. Do not hand your records over to the RSPCA and do not tell them that you have them. They are your defence and might be the one thing that will help you to win your case.



References:

Inhalation exposure studies showed that repeated exposure to 233 ppm ammonia for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, for 30 days produced no adverse clinical effects in rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and monkeys. Much lower exposure appears to retard the growth of pigs. Compare this to the toxic effects of ammonia on humans to be found in a table on page 6 of the same document.

Health effects of ammonia

Biological effects of short, high level exposure to gases: Ammonia

RSPCA Induced Hell

Taking a look behind the glitzy prosecutions often uncovers a nightmare that is never publicised. The SHG will be sharing the true stories of RSPCA prosecutions posted by those brave enough to tell their stories.

Site Title

New laws make it imperative that your animals are contained when anyone comes to your door or your house. If your dog nips a visitor it is now as much a crime as if they nip someone in the street.

Sensible to crate them then? Not if that visitor is the RSPCA or police.

Take a look at one of the photos presented by the RSPCA to the media. Could these dogs have lived in this crate as the RSPCA claimed? Notice the white material on the floor of the crate. How long do you think that could have stayed so white?

Do the dogs look starved? Dirty? Abused?

Read on for the side of the story of one woman’s trip to an RSPCA induced Hell that gave the RSPCA an influx of very saleable dogs and the sort of publicity they crave.

It all started at the end of…

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RSPCA – ACRO data sharing statistics

Following an FoI request made by The SHG to the NPCC we can report the following:

The NPCC replaced ACPO in April 2015. In May 2015 NPCC deposited a significant amount of ACPO records in the Hull University archives, where it is available to researchers.

The ACRO criminal records office has an information sharing agreement with the RSPCA just as their predecessors, ACPO had.

The RSPCA have accessed the police national computer database as follows:

Year Dates Arrest Summons Number Creations Name Enquiry Checks 
18/03/11 – 16/03/12 161151
19/03/12 – 15/03/13 163074
18/03/13 – 15/03/14 139243
18/03/14 – 15/03/15 99561
16/03/15 – 15/03/16 79783
16/03/16 –  15/03/1773861
16/03/17 – 31/03/1886184
01/04/18 – 31/03/1976171
01/04/19 – 31/03/2073392
01/04/20 – 31/03/2127635
01/04/21 – 31/05/21536

The RSPCA have a 10 year plan which bodes ill for animal owners

Not very long ago it was completely normal for a dog to have puppies or a cat to have kittens and for the owners to sell the offspring. Who would have thought that in so short a time it would become a criminal offence to sell the puppies or kittens your own animal produced naturally? Who would have thought that you would need permission from the Local Authority to let them breed and have to go through an expensive licensing procedure before you are allowed to do so?

Who would have thought that shadowy prosecuting Animal Rights groups would gloat that although no animal welfare issues had been found, a failure to be properly licensed was a serious safeguarding matter?

Animal Protection Services said there were no identified concerns around the welfare of the animals in Smith’s care, but said the undermining of the statutory licensing regime is “serious” and impacts the wider community, as well as being necessary for safeguarding animals.

How has all of this come about?

To begin with most of the animal related legislation that has been passed by Parliament is now either designed to increase sentences or to impose draconian bureaucratic restrictions on those who live and work with animals. Legislation has been based on demands by animal rights groups such as the RSPCA without giving sufficient consideration to what those groups will do with the legislation once it becomes law or even what it will mean for animal welfare.

The RSPCA has a 10 year strategy. A bit like the old Communist block 10 year plans. Take a look at their aims and it is clear that in order to achieve them we are facing yet more bureaucratic legislation. Nothing that has been done legislatively since the RSPCA’s Protection of Animals Act 1911 has altered the animal welfare prosecution and conviction rates. In Wales, as in England, they oscillate but never really improve.

What do the RSPCA plan to do?

Reduce cruelty to animals by half – to reduce neglect, abuse and cruelty to companion animals, including exotic pets, in England and Wales by 50%.

Prevent ‘petfishing‘ – to end the illegal selling of puppies and kittens in the UK.

Boost farm animal welfare – to see more than half of all UK’s farm animals reared to RSPCA welfare standards. To encourage people to ‘eat less, eat better’ by encouraging people to consume less meat, fish, eggs and dairy from low-welfare farms and to only choose higher-welfare labels.

End severe suffering in research – to secure a global commitment to developing, validating and accepting non-animal technologies to replace animal experiments, and put an end to the severe suffering of laboratory animals.

Secure legal protection for animals – to help establish animal protection as a significant UK governmental goal supported by an independent public body, legally established, an Animal Protection Commission.

Help our inspectors rescue animals sooner – to achieve statutory powers in England and Wales for RSPCA inspectors under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Get the UN onboard for animals – to secure the adoption by the United Nations of a comprehensive Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Inspire a one million-strong movement for animal welfare by 2030 – to use our new Community Engagement Programme to mobilise more people to help us help animals.

What can we take from these aims?

If bureaucratic breaches are to be considered as cruelty then it is certainly going to be easy to reduce the figures, especially if yet more such legislation is enacted.

Can we really believe that the real cruelty is going to just evaporate while everyone is running around enforcing technical breaches? Or will the continuing failure to deal with it be hidden under a mass of petty bureaucracy that brings in huge fines and confiscation orders?

The RSPCA makes no secret of the fact that it believes that exotics should not be kept as pets . If they succeed in getting some or all types of exotic keeping banned then naturally cruelty figures will fall as the animals die out. Think of the Judge Death character in the comics who believes that life must be extinguished in order to prevent crime. What a role model for the RSPCA!

Targeting research is easy now that new cell based techniques and computer modelling are increasingly replacing animal experimentation. The replacement of animals generally is only a matter of time and the improvements are a result of scientific research, not RSPCA campaigns.

It is no surprise to see the RSPCA scrabbling for the powers created by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The SHG warned when the Act was still a Bill proposed by the RSPCA that sooner or later the RSPCA would try to get those powers granted to them . Hopefully the current concerns relating to private prosecutions in general will persuade Parliament that empowering a charity is not a good idea.

The RSPCA was very active campaigning within the EU and now that the UK has left it is no surprise to see that they have turned their attention to the UN. Forcing the UK to abide by international laws driven by the RSPCA and other prominent Animal Rights groups cuts the ground from under the feet of those national politicians who are critical of RSPCA demands.

Perhaps the most cynical of their aims is to try and push their own RSPCA Assured label, increasing food prices, especially for the poorer sections of society. Higher welfare might be the aim, but the continual bad publicity as their suppliers fail and are outed by other animal rights groups does not instil confidence.

Read more of the RSPCA’s ten year plan and ask yourself what it will really mean for your ability to keep, breed, and work with the animals of your choice.

International (R)SPCA collusion, chance or caciquismal nightmare?


Watching what is happening in other jurisdictions is vitally important. We now have RSPCA UK, the SSPCA and RSPCA QLD all wanting to be able to dispose of animals before any court has heard the evidence against the Defendant.

For organisations that claim to care about fair play and due process this is a bizarre position to hold and highlights the disdain these AR-Groups feel for the rights and feelings of those unfortunate enough to come to their notice.

How many Defendants will have the will to continue to fight if either the breeding stock that has taken years to produce and which forms the core of their business is gone? Or if their only companion has either been killed or sold to someone else?

It is heartbreaking that Animal Rights (AR) organisations masquerading as “welfare” groups whose claimed aims include “kindness” prefer solutions that destroy the human animal bond over those that could work to enhance it.

Wouldn’t it be better if a local vet, chosen by the defendant, was to be allowed to oversee the ongoing health and welfare of the animals if they remained with their owners pending the outcome of any court proceedings? Meaning that pet animals could remain in their homes with the people they love without the stress of moving into kennels and grieving for their family,, and commercial animals could be dealt with accordingly?

The costs of the veterinary supervision to be the RSPCA’s if they lose and the Defendant’s if they should be found guilty – or proportioned costs if the Defendant is only found guilty on some of the charges against them?

Of course, in England and Wales, s.20 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 already allowed applications to court either by the prosecutor, requesting to dispose of the animals, or for the owner to ask for their return. This has not been good enough for the RSPCA in England and Wales because the courts have not always granted their requests.

Worse, a government that was penny pinching on animal welfare made S.20 a civil application, meaning that there is no legal aid available for individuals fighting for their animals against top prosecution barristers and solicitors. So much for equality of arms and human rights.

Can we really believe that three separate (R)SPCAs are asking for the same nasty solution to a problem of their own making purely by chance? Or is it more likely that they have been colluding together and if any jurisdiction allows these demands the others will point to it as reason for granting the same injustice in their country?

RSPCA Wales statistics and analysis 2013 – 2019

The SHG has collated these figures into tables to provide the media and anyone else interested with a means of easily comparing RSPCA Wales statistics between 2013 and 2019.  A glance will enable busy journalists to see whether claims of increases or decreases over a set number of years really show the claimed trends or if extending the time period shows something completely different.

All of the statistics used here have come from the RSPCA Annual summary. for Wales from 2014 to 2019.  Note that the RSPCA regularly changes the names of the things they measure or the way that they are measured making it very difficult to draw comparisons.

The data for 2013 is taken from the 2014 report.

The 2018 report is light on content.  Very few figures are given.

The 2019 report states that the inspectorate numbers 40.  We have put this down as inspectors but in all probability it means the sum of all employees in the inspectorate, not just inspectors.

One statistic that has not changed over the years is the number of calls which has remained steady at 50,000.  This is important because all of the other figures that are quoted vary year on year.  It is difficult to understand why calls for one issue would increase proportionately to the decrease in another issue leaving the total number of calls constant.

Table 1 shows the make up of the RSPCA Inspectorate in Wales to the extent that it can be ascertained from the figures given in the Annual Summaries.

Table 1.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
RSPCA as a Whole in Wales
Calls from the public 50000 50000 50000 50000 50000
No. Inspectors 23 30 40
No. Animal Welfare Officers 3
No. Animal Collection Officers 7 6
Animals Collected and Transported by ACOs 3129
No. Market Inspectors 3

 

Table 2 contains the prosecution statistics.

The 2018 report refers to 5940 pet owners offered and accepted animal welfare advice.  We have taken this to mean they were given a welfare and improvement notice.

2 of the 60 defendants convicted in 2019 were  youths.  Children in other words.

No explanation is given for why the  statistics change year on year.  Nor is there any explanation of why the different statistics go up and down but the total number of calls remains static.

We can only speculate that the RSPCA chooses what to investigate depending on the availability of funds and the campaigns they are running.

They state that the number of convictions fell for the first time in 4 years, which is true, although we do not have the 2018 figures.  What they have not pointed out is the steep drop in convictions between 2013 and 2014 and the steady rise  thereafter.

What is really happening is that all of the figures oscillate around an average, some years they rise and some years they fall, and unless the RSPCA increases the number of inspectors and the amount of money it has available to spend on prosecutions that will remain the position.   No charity can ever match the funding or resources available to state prosecutors.  This is why prosecutions should always be the job of the state, not private bodies like charities.
Table 2.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Defendants Convicted 79 47 41 61 67 60
Total Convictions 297 116 89 120 148 122
Cautions 38
Complaints of Cruelty 11740 9895
Complaints Investigated 4484 10540 10176 10856 7197
Welfare and Warning Notices 5618 5790 7119 6678 5940 4392
Convictions 116 89 122

 

Table 3 gives the Regional Prosecution Statistics.  Note that the figures for 2018 and 2019 were not published in the Annual Summaries.

Table 3

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Regions Stats
South East Wales
Total Convictions 169 54 52 35 38
Defendants Convicted 36 24 25 25 19
North & Mid Wales
Total Convictions 35 32 27 17 44
Defendants Convicted 13 12 10 8 20
South West Wales
Total Convictions 73 30 10 68 66
Defendants Convicted 30 11 6 28 28

 

 

Table 4 contains a mix of information given on animals collected, rehomed, neutered etc plus details of the number of Branches and clinics.  They are divided between the RSPCA as a whole in Wales and those for the Branches and Animal Centres.

The 2015 report had this spectacular comment:

Whilst an encouraging 78 percent of dogs were reported to be microchipped, more than 60 percent of dogs acquired in the previous five years had been sourced from private sellers or friends and family. So whilst the RSPCA warmly welcomed the improvements made by the Welsh Government to the standards for licensed dog breeding in Wales, which came into force in April 2015, these statistics show us there is still much work to be done to educate potential dog owners.


Here we see the beginnings of the legislative moves to destroy dog breeding and force those who want to obtain a dog to get one from charities

The 2017 figures for cats neutered is part of the joint project with Cat Protection.  People who took it up were also offered a microchip.  We are not told how many took up the offer of a microchip..

The 2017 report also states that most animals collected and rescued are wildlife.

The number of Branches in Wales dropped from 14 in 2015 to 13 in 2017.

Table 4

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
RSPCA as a Whole in Wales
Animals Collected and Rescued 8537 7589 7642 8220 8006 8294
Animals Rehomed 1750 1856 2140 2000 1977
Dogs Rehomed
Cats Rehomed
Cats Neutered 3000 7745
Other Animals Neutered 1500
Equine Complaints Dealt With 2166
No. Equines Complained About 10780
Equines Taken In 70 100 72
Wild Animals Rescued 4919
Dogs Rescued 626 601
Cats Rescued 1930 1514
Animals Neutered 4500 9000
Animals Microchipped 2500
No. Vet Clinics 7
No. Animal Centres 3
No. Branches 14 13
No. Equine Rehoming Officer 1
No. Adoption Centres 1
Branches Stats
Animals Rehomed 1176 850 1044
Neutering provided for Animals 4245 4500
Cats Neutered 3000
Other Animals Neutered 1500
Animals Microchipped 2540 2500
Welfare Treatments Provided 11682
No. National RSPCA Animal Centres 2
Animals Rehomed by Animal Centres 900 933
Dogs Rehomed by Animal Centres 239
Cats Rehomed by Animal Centres 444
RSPCA Cymru & Newport Pets at Home
Animals Rehomed 1251 100

 

We will add to these statistics as new data becomes available.  Please let us know if you find any errors or if you find data that is currently missing from these tables.

The Blackmail inherent in the Plea Bargain

There is going to be lots of hate blowing in the wind over the Fairbrother case, mainly because so much of the detail will never be told.

This quote from the article in particular needs an explanation because so few people understand how an RSPCA prosecution (and very often a police CPS prosecution) pans out.

“What really disappoints me is that a number of charges have been dropped, how can you face 17 charges each and be allowed to plead to only a handful?”

A typical raid snatches as many animals as it possibly can. Then it works out what charges should be brought and who should be charged.

The charges can be divided into three categories. Sometimes they will consist of only one category, sometimes all three.

Firstly there are those charges that are going to be impossible to defend except by mitigation.

Secondly there are those charges that might result in a Guilty verdict but which for various reasons can be defended and might result in a Not Guilty verdict.

Thirdly there are those charges that are simply ridiculous but which are included because they can be bargained away. They are useful psychological tools in that they help to further terrify and overwhelm the Defendant and their legal / veterinary team.

The Defendants can be divided into categories too.

Firstly there is the person who is actually responsible for the animals and whatever has happened too them.

Secondly there will be anyone who might have lived on the premises or visited regularly. This second category will often involve vulnerable people, either the very elderly, children, people who are ill, or a spouse / partner who will lose their job if they are involved in an animal welfare case.

When a case goes to court and it becomes clear that someone is fighting back these lesser categories become very important.

In order to get a conviction the RSPCA will make an offer to deal.

“We will drop those charges in the third or even the second category if you plead guilty to some in the first or second category. “

Why would they do this?

It prevents the Defence team raising any legal arguments that might get the case struck out. Was the warrant properly obtained? Used? Did the seizure take place properly? Was it properly documented? Were there any questions relating to the expert veterinary evidence? etc.

it also prevents any problems that might have occurred with the animals while in RSPCA possession being brought into the public domain. Did the animals die? Were they attacked by other animals? Did they become ill or were they injured?

The deal might also include who is to be prosecuted.

“Plead Guilty to some charges and we will drop the prosecution against your child / sick parent / mentally ill sister / partner who will lose their job.”

The pressure on a Defendant who has been made an offer like this just before the case is about to start is immense.

Their legal team can not make the decision for them, only pass on the offer and tell them that courts might give a lesser sentence for a Guilty plea that saves court time.

For those who have to pay for their legal representation and who may well have lost their incomes because of the prosecution there is also the issue of costs to consider.  The costs of a full blown trial can run into many thousands of pounds.  Often far more than any fines are likely to be.  

So next time you see people wondering why charges are dropped or claiming that a Guilty plea means that the people involved must have done something wrong please explain the facts to them.

I signed over my animal – How do I overturn it?

“I signed over my pets.  The RSPCA said I would be prosecuted/they would fetch the police/have me arrested/seize all my animals/notify social services and have my children taken away if I didn’t.  But I love my animals and want them back.  What can I do?”

These are some of the heartbreaking words that The SHG hears regularly on the helpline (0744 99 89 411).

The first thing to do is take legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in animal welfare law to ensure that you will not make matters worse.  Phone The SHG on 0744 99 89 411 and we will give you a list of solicitors.

Next you need to notify the RSPCA that you are rescinding the sign over.  The wording will be different if someone other than the owner signed the animals over.

Send the following e-mail to these e-mail addresses.  Fill in the details in the [brackets]

chris.sherwood@rspca.org.uk

enqserv@rspca.org.uk

ray.goodfellow@rspca.org.uk

and fax it to:

RSPCA fax no’s

0303 123 0100
0303 123 0284

The title is:

For urgent attention of the legal department – Rescinding signover

In the body write:

I rescind signover of the [animals] removed by the RSPCA from [wherever, whenever by whoever] on the grounds that it was done under duress when I was upset and had no benefit of legal advice or medical attention.

Yours sincerely

[Your name]

Or if someone other than you signed the animals over, in the body write:

I rescind signover of the [animals] removed by the RSPCA from [wherever, whenever by whoever] on the grounds that it was done under duress when the person who signed was upset and had no benefit of legal advice or medical attention and they had no authority from the owner to sign the animals over.

Follow up with hard copy by mail that has to be signed for to:

RSPCA Legal Department,
Wilberforce Way,
Southwater,
Horsham
RH13 9RS

The document you have signed is effectively a consumer contract.  If you had signed to buy double glazing you would have 14 days cooling off period in which you could rescind the purchase.  The reason for this is that people who sell items to you are considered to have too much influence when doing so in your own home or on the phone.

Now think about how much more influence the RSPCA have when demanding that you sign over your animals.

If the RSPCA do not respond either speak to your specialist solicitor or ring the Consumer Advice help line on 03454 04 05 06.

Contact the Charity Commission and tell them what has happened.  Stress that you are making a complaint about a charity whose actions are bringing charities into disrepute in the minds of the public.

Make an appointment to see your MP, your local councillors, any politicians you can access and ask them for help.

Consider talking to the local media.  Newspapers or radio are always on the lookout for local stories of interest.  Again, you should take legal advice before doing this to ensure that you are not damaging your case.

Finally, please let us know how you get on.  If you run into problems we will do our best to help.

 

How do I prove ownership of my animal?

One of the most difficult issues the SHG has to deal with is proof of ownership.  Animals stray or are stolen.  They end up in RSPCA possession and the RSPCA will not part with the animal.  Or they end up in the possession of an individual who claims that the animal is really theirs.

The police will not act, claiming that these issues are civil, an ownership dispute.

Most people cannot afford to pay a solicitor and there is no legal aid for this type of action.

So what can people do to ensure that they can prove ownership of their animals?

Whenever you transfer ownership of an animal also exchange receipts. Do this even if you give or receive the animal as a gift.

If the animal is going to be looked after for a period of time by someone else then get a signed agreement that details who is responsible for what. Especially in emergencies.   Who has to arrange vet care?  What if the animal strays?  Or the carer is taken to hospital unexpectedly?

You need to create a paper trail of responsibility and ownership.

You also need to create a photo-dossier showing the animal in your possession over its life.  Lots of photos, at least one a week with that day’s newspaper headlines in the photo and something else that is clearly your property or you also included.  Never part with these documents.  Try to keep copies away from home.

Remember that micro-chips are not proof of ownership.  They can also fail or move in the animal.

Consider getting your animals tattooed.  It is an obvious mark and as such is a deterrent.

Get a DNA profile of your animal.  A quick internet search for “DNA profiling of pets” will list many companies who will produce a profile and even store a sample of your animal’s DNA.  And as they say, unlike a micro-chip the DNA is tamper proof.  It cannot be removed or fail. It is not invasive and has no adverse health implications.

All of the above are relatively cheap and easy to do.  Especially when you think about how much it would cost if you ever had to fight to get your animal back.

Special relationship between the Fire and Rescue service and the RSPCA?

Writing in response to a criticism of the police for sending ten officers to rescue a confused seal by Richard Littlejohn, Chris Hobbs asked:

“In addition to the police, the fire brigade were also present. Should they have been or should they have been reserving their skills for real fires or pulling people out of road accidents?”

and went on to say:

“The emergency services refusing to help a stranded seal who eventually dies a slow and agonising death in a farmer’s field would be a master class of PR wouldn’t it?”

No mention of the self proclaimed emergency service for animals, the RSPCA. No question of where their trained seal experts had disappeared to, or why the money the public donates appears to have failed to produce an emergency RSPCA response service that can act without the need for police officers or members of the fire service to do the job for them?

There have been many criticisms of the special relationship between the RSPCA and the police.

For instance, the Wooler Report took on board the SHG submission and noted that the RSPCA ‘piggy backing’ on police powers by passes the important safeguards imposed on both local authorities and the police. Each has internal complaints procedures that culminate in independent external bodies, the IPCC and the local government ombudsman.

But what of the special relationship between the Fire Service and the RSPCA?

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) has a Memorandum of Understanding with the RSPCA. The CFOA has committed to sharing the MoU, and encouraging its adoption, with every member of the Association who sit within every fire and rescue service within the UK.

Although the CFOA has no authority to ensure Fire and Rescue services compliance with the MoU it is clear that they are expected to adopt it.

Adherence to the MoU, which details how the Fire and Rescue Service can, if they deem it appropriate, charge members of the public for their services rescuing animals, but should never charge the RSPCA the full rate, have led to confusion and complaints that the Fire and Rescue service is wasting public money and resources by attending animal rescues at the behest of the RSPCA. On one occasion the Fire and rescue service sent two fire engines to provide light so that the RSPCA could continue an investigation in the dark. No-one thought to ask why an RSPCA investigation team had no lights or torches with them.

Some Fire and Rescue services are refusing to turn out to rescue animals unless they are asked by the RSPCA. Others say that the reason they undertake animal rescues is to prevent members of the public from attempting a rescue and putting themselves in danger.

All will turn out without being asked by the RSPCA if a member of the public is already attempting a rescue that could endanger them or is already in difficulties.

This raises an important question. Who should be responsible for Fire and Rescue Service policy in any local area? Unelected charities like the RSPCA and the CFOA deciding who will respond to calls for help from the public and who will pay? Or should local government make the decision?

Is this really the way the policies that govern our public services should be determined?