Defence solicitor specialising
in animal welfare law
Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation. Authority Number 00075951
If the RSPCA knock at your door, perhaps dressed in uniform and quoting a rank such as "Inspector" or "Superintendent", remember that they are a charity, not a law enforcement body.
Their staff are ordinary members of the public and have no more right to enter your home, garden, farm or workplace, than anyone else.
"The RSPCA have come into my home."
If they are already on your property, home or land, ask them to leave saying “Unless you have lawful authorisation to enter my premises I want you to leave now”.
If they refuse to leave you are entitled to use reasonable force to eject them, as you would any other common trespasser.
"Do I have to answer their questions?"
The RSPCA staff member may use the words “You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not now mention something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”. This means that the RSPCA.staff can now give evidence in court as to what you say.
Say “I have been advised not to answer any questions put by, or in the presence of, RSPCA officials without a solicitor present. If you wish to question me I must insist that you arrange, and pay for, the police duty solicitor to be present”.
"Wouldn't it be easier just to let them in and look at my animals?"
You may feel that you have nothing to hide and are being helpful. But do not be fooled – many innocent animal keepers have lost their animals in this way. Be firm, but polite, and do not let them into your house, or other premises.
No legal seizure of your animals can take place unless entry to your premises has taken place with proper authority.
"Okay, they have left. What now?"
Do not think that this is the end of the matter – they will probably be back, perhaps with the police. It is vital that you:
Photograph your animals and your enclosures.
If possible, get a friend or someone whose testimony would carry more weight, to look over your animals/pets., preferably a vet.
"They are back, with a police officer."
Ask “Do you have a search warrant, or other lawful authority, to enter my premises?” Insist on a yes or no answer. If the answer is "no" they have no right to demand access. Do not let them in. Proceed as you would if the RSPCA attend on their own.
The police may have some other authority to enter your premises which means they can go in without a search warrant. They can, for example, enter to arrest you for various offences without your consent. If they use this authority it does not enable anyone else to enter so you can insist that all other persons leave your premises, unless they can give a lawful authority for their being present.
"They have a search warrant."
Ask “May I see and read the search warrant?” Ensure that you read the warrant before they try to enter unless they state it is urgent. Do not do anything to obstruct the police officer(s).
Check to see who is authorised to enter by the warrant. Only allow the persons authorised in the warrant onto your property and insist that any others leave.
"I have been arrested."
Insist that you speak only to the police and do not answer questions with the RSPCA present. Insist that you wish to speak to the duty solicitor and do not make a written statement until you have spoken to the duty solicitor.
"They are taking away my animals."
Only the police have the authority to remove your animals, which once seized, can be quite difficult to get back. Should your animals be removed by the police you are entitled to inspect them wherever they may have been placed and you are entitled to an independent veterinary inspection, which the RSPCA. are obliged to pay for.
The RSPCA (or any other charity) have absolutely no authority to remove your property or animals without your consent.