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The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA)

This Act regulates the use of protected animals in any experimental or other scientific procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animal. Protected animals under the Act are any living veterbrae other than man and any living cephalopod.

It is an underlying principle of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 that animals bred, supplied and used for scientific procedures are cared for in accordance with the best standards of modern animal husbandry.

Permission to work with animals is granted by the Home Office by licence only under very specific conditions. The Home Office has an inspection system to ensure that rules are not violated.

Guidance on the operation of the Act can be found on the Home Office website.

Legislation and Regulation
Animal research is governed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986, which provides for a licensing system, administered and regulated by the Home Office. The UK regulatory and licensing system is widely recognised as one of the most stringent in the world, a key tenant of which is animal welfare.
The licensing system has three tiers:

  • locations where such work is carried out must be licensed under an Establishment Licence (PEL),
  • particular projects are licensed under a Project Licence (PPL),
  • every individual (staff and students) undertaking scientific procedures on animals must hold a Personal Licence (PIL).

Project licences are only granted where:

  • there is no suitable alternative which would avoid using animals,
  • the benefits of the project outweigh the effects on the animals, and
  • the number of animals involved must be minimised and they must be treated in a humane manner and any suffering minimised as far as possible.

Applicants for Project and Personal Licences must undertake and pass an accredited training programme and be familiar with the legal and ethical framework involved in the use of animals for scientific purposes. Compliance with licences is actively investigated by the Home Office’s Animals in Scientific Procedures Inspectorate, who have powers to suspend or terminate licences. Breaches of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act are liable to incur fines and even imprisonment.

Please see the University’s Research Governance & Ethics and Research Code of Practice websites for more information.

For further information, email
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