University Policy and Procedures
These pages are designed to expand on those guidelines to give staff and students additional support and guidance on the ethical use of animals in research. You will find links to useful information resources held on external web sites and to further university guidance.
The University is committed to ensure that the highest ethical standards and standards of care and respect for animal welfare are being maintained in all research where the use of animals is essential. Alternative methods to the use of animals are under constant development and animal procedures will be replaced with non-animal techniques wherever possible.
All projects involving animals, including studies which are not subject to Home Office licensing, are scrutinised and approved by the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB), established in accordance with Home Office guidance and the RSCPA/Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA) Guiding principles on good practice for local ethical review processes. The AWERB will ensure that in all cases staff and students are trained and appropriately experienced and that the potential benefits of the research outweigh the effects on the animals concerned and is committed to the promotion of the 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement):
- Reduction – to use the minimum number of animals,
- Refinement – to maintain the highest possible standards of animal care, use and welfare, to initiate improvements where possible and to minimise the effect on the animals,
- Replacement – to use alternatives wherever possible, for example, computer modelling, cell and molecular biology, tissue culture, human clinical research.
Only when the AWERB is fully satisfied that these principles are being adhered to will proposals be approved and, where a licence is required, submitted to the Home Office for its approval.
Highly experienced and qualified veterinary and animal care staff are actively involved in the ethical review and scrutiny of research, the welfare, care and husbandry of animals and provide advice and support to all staff and students involved in research using animals.
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 AWERBenquiries@warwick.ac.uk
Please use your University email account when using that email address as emails from non university addresses will not be read.