Norwich Cat Mutilations: Police Figures ‘Not A Full And Accurate Reflection’ Of Attacks
Norfolk Constabulary received reports on a spate of attacks on cats over a two week period in April 2019, but police figures don't count the attacks.
In the spring of 2019, Norwich was shocked by a spate of five separate instances of cat mutilation. One cat was returned to its owner with both ears cut off, while body parts of cats were found in Norwich allotments.
Yet according to Freedom of Information data released by Norfolk Constabulary, there were no recorded offences under either the Animal Welfare Act 2006 or the Protection of Animals Act 1911 in 2019.
There have been just 13 crimes against animals in Norwich recorded in the last four years under the acts.
Data from Norfolk Constabulary stated that between 2015 and 2018, a total of 10 charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Causing, permitting or failing to prevent unnecessary suffering were brought about in Norwich. A further three charges under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 were brought about in the same time period. However, none were listed as occurring in 2019.
A spokesperson for Norfolk Constabulary said: “The reports of cat mutilations received in 2019 were recorded as ‘Other criminal damage – Protection of Animals Act 1911, cruelty to animals’ within our crime system.
“We can’t speculate on the reasons why these types of incidents happen. Animal cruelty offences and those who commit such acts are often complex in their nature and rationale.
“We will continue to work with RSPCA colleagues and investigate reported cases of animal cruelty. We have previously given public advice within our communities to support pet owners to take precautions, improve local vigilance, and report intelligence around these types of crime.”
Lesley Grahame, Norwich Green Party Councillor, said: “This is a disgusting crime by people who have clearly lost all self-control and compassion. In times of lockdown, many people are struggling and on edge, with a noted increase in domestic abuse. There is less anti-social behaviour on the streets and more at home. Neither family members nor animals deserve to bear the brunt of someone’s pent up frustration. Taking care of each other, including our pets is as important as ever.”
PC Shaun Quinn told the Independent in 2019: “These are shocking incidents. We know they will cause some distress to members of the community. We are conducting a number of enquiries and liaising with the RSPCA, as well as increasing patrols in the area.”
Replying to a Freedom of Information request submitted by media literacy charity The Student View, Norfolk Constabulary conceded that data may not paint an accurate picture, saying “Most offences of this nature are non-notifiable and are therefore not recorded on the crime system. We have provided figures below for those crimes which are clearly against an offence against an animal. It should therefore be noted that this is not a full and accurate reflection of offences against animals.”
Why did a student choose to cover this story?
Finlay, 14, from Norwich, said: “I remembered my parents receiving a newsletter warning about the topic in my local area and having to keep the cat inside for a few months – not that the cat went out a lot anyway, but it was still a notable change.”
How did the answers make our journalist feel?
“Not particularly worried as the figures were quite small, but it is never pleasant to read about. The police having figures and responding did make it seem a lot more serious though.”