Research and testing using animals

The development of drugs and medical technologies that help to reduce suffering among humans and animals depends on the carefully regulated use of animals for research.

We respect the fact that people have strong ethical objections to the use of animals in scientific procedures. We have legislated so experimentation is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

The use of animals in experiments and testing is regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). ASPA has recently been revised to transpose European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The revised legislation came into force on 1 January 2013.
ASPA is implemented by the Home Office in England, Scotland and Wales and by the Department for Health, Social Security and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

This version of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 incorporates the changes made by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) to transpose Directive 2010/63/EU. Please do not take this document to be a definitive statement of the law. It should be treated as a working document and is provided for information purposes only. A definitive version of the Act will appear in due course on http://www.legislation.gov.uk. (opens in new window)

Applying for licences

ASPA has a three-level licensing system:

ASPA requires that before a project licence is issued the Secretary of Secretary must weigh the benefits to humans, other animals, or the environment against the costs to the animals involved. A licence cannot be granted if the work could be carried out without using animals. The procedures authorised must cause the minimum possible suffering to the smallest number of animals of the lowest sensitivity.
Before applying for a licence applicants are strongly advised to read the draft guidance on the operation of the ASPA, the amended version of the Act and the standard conditions for establishment licences, project licences and personal licences.

Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

Draft guidance on the operation of ASPA was published on 29 January 2013 for comment. The draft guidance explains what amended ASPA requires and provides detailed guidance to holders of establishment licences, project licences and personal licences and new licence applicants. It also provides guidance on severity classification and humane killing.
The closing date for responses was 15 March.

Draft code of practice for all licensed establishments for the care and accommodation of animals

A draft code of practice on the care and accommodation of animals was published on 15 February 2013. The code of practice sets out the standards which must be applied by all users, breeders and suppliers of animals from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2016.

Section A describes general requirements. Section B describes the requirements for specific species of animals.

The free text in the draft code has been taken from Annex 3 to European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The tables in Section B to the code have been taken from the Code of Practice for the 19 Housing and Care of Animals Used in Scientific Procedures, published on 7 February 1989, 20 the Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals in Designated Breeding and 21 Supplying Establishments, published on 24 January 1995, and the Code of Practice for the 22 Housing and Care of Animals in Designated Breeding and Supplying Establishments, 23 Supplement: Ferrets and Gerbils, published on 7 November 2001.

If you wish to comment on the draft code, please reply using the feedback form. The closing date for responses is 8 May 2013.

Annual statistics on the use of animals for scientific purposes

This consultation document seeks your comments on proposed new arrangements for the collection and publication of data on the use of animals in scientific procedures required under Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (the Directive).

If you wish to comment on the draft code, please reply using the feedback form.  The closing date for responses is 8 May 2013.

Conflicts of  interest declaration for named persons

It is important that any named person1 responsible for animal welfare under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 must not be in a position where he or she does not put his/her over-riding welfare obligations to the animals first. A person with a controlling financial interest or a substantial interest in the scientific outcome of a project might be presumed not to be suitable as such a named person in the absence of compelling circumstances to the contrary.

In order for the Secretary of State to determine whether an individual nominated to be such a named person is suitable, it is important to be fully aware of any real or perceived conflicts of interest which exist.  A separate declaration should be completed by each person nominated by an establishment licence holder to be such a named person and should accompany the application for designation of an establishment, or the application for change(s), as appropriate.

Publications

Annual report

The 2011 report covers topics such as licensing and inspection, compliance and infringement, and initiatives.

You can read the 2011 report.

Statistics

The full report of the 2011 statistics on scientific procedures on living animals was published on 10 July 2012.   

ASPA e-newsletters

These newsletters are for those with licences granted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and others with an interest in the use of animals in scientific research and testing.

If you would like to have the newsletters sent to you by email, please send your contact details to aspnewsletter@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Non-technical summaries (abstracts)

We publish details of project licences granted under ASPA to contribute to greater openness, and to greater public understanding and debate, about the use of animals in science, and how it is regulated. These non-technical summaries (formerly abstracts) are produced by the project licence holders and the Home Office bears no authorial or editorial responsibility for their content.
The project licence holders are owners of the copyright relating to non-technical summaries (abstracts). Requests for any permission to reproduce any part of the material must be made to the project licence holders via the Home Office.

Abstracts from 2012, 2011, and post-March 2010 are available. 
Abstracts before March 2010 are on the archived version of the Animals in Scientific Procedures website.

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