Home Office

The use of animals in experiments and testing is regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). The Act was revised as part of the transposition of the 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.
Three licences are required under ASPA before scientific research with the use of animals is permitted:
  • Establishment Licence

(a) applying of regulated procedures to protected animals

(b) breeding of relevant protected animals for the purpose

(c) keeping of relevant protected animals which have been bred elsewhere and are to be supplied for the purpose

  • Project Licence's specify a programme of work and authorises the application, as part of that programme, of specified regulated procedures to animals of specified descriptions at a specified place or places.
  • Personal Licence's provide authorisation to carry out specified regulated procedures, under supervision if necessary.
Before applying for a licence applicants are strongly advised to read the standard conditions for establishment licencesproject licences and personal licences

The principle of Refinement set out in ASPA requires that animals are killed with a minimum of pain, suffering and distress. ASPA Schedule 1 lists killing methods appropriate for different types of animal, which are considered to be reasonably straightforward and can be performed consistently in a humane manner by someone who has received appropriate training and supervision.

The Establishment Licence must also specify named individuals who are responsible for the following activities:

  • Ensuring that the requirements of ASPA and the conditions of the establishment licence are complied with; the Named Person Responsible for Compliance.
  • Advising on the health, welfare and treatment of the animals; the Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS).
  • Overseeing the welfare and care of the animals; the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO).
  • Ensuring that those dealing with animals are adequately educated, trained and supervised until they are competent and that they continue to undertake appropriate further training; the Named Training and Competency Officer (NTCO).
  • Ensuring that those dealing with animals have access to information they need about the species they are using; the Named Information Officer (NIO).
Further guidance on how to carry out scientific research and testing using animals, and how to apply for licences can be found on the Home Office website.

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