BASC enters row over RSPCA info sharing

ITEM01 credit Brian Phipps

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has written to the chief constables of 10 police forces in England and Wales seeking formal assurances that they do not allow the RSPCA to have access to firearms licensing information.

This follows reports that the animal welfare charity may have information-sharing agreements with some forces, including information held about people on the National Firearms Licensing Management System.

According to reports, the charity can pay for criminal record checks on suspects, witnesses, defendants and victims, and is using the Police National Computer (PNC) an average of 124 times every month – nearly 1,500 times a year. The records are usually regarded as so sensitive that employers – even those in the public sector and involved in working with children – do not have access to them.

The charity revealed this month that it had secured 4,168 animal welfare and cruelty convictions last year, almost doubling the 2,441 convictions of 2009. An RSPCA spokesman said the charity requests information from the police to “prevent and detect” serious animal-related crime.

Sir Barney White-Spunner, who heads the Countryside Alliance, called for the RSPCA’s access to police files to be stopped until it is proved lawful. He said: “The RSPCA is neither a public body nor a statutory prosecuting force, it is a campaigning charity with an increasingly militant animal rights agenda. The disclosure of highly personal information held on police databases to the organisation could pose significant risks to the individual concerned.”

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