Attacks by animal extremists down on 2005

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pharmaceutical drug, Pharmacology

UK government legislation designed to curb animal extremism appears
to be working as statistics published this week records a reduction
in the number of incidents provoked by animal rights extremists
during the first half of this year.

The introduction of measures in the UK within the last two years to combat the threat from animal rights extremists include the creation of a specialist police team and new powers to protect scientists.

The laws were put in place as the UK's biotech sector has grown to become the largest in Europe and second globally only to the US. Britain has around 455 dedicated biotech businesses.

Published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) the report found that incidents of attacks on people's private homes, usually in the middle of the night, causing damage and leaving threatening messages - 'home visits' - declined to just 15.

This figure represented fewer than half the number in the same period last year and 14 per cent of the total for the first six months of 2004.

"These figures mark a sea change in the level of attacks and harassment in the UK and substantive progress towards Government objectives,"​ said Philip Wright, Director of Science and Technology at the ABPI.

"While the number of 'home visits' is at an all-time low, the new figures also show a drop in virtually every area of illegal activity by extremists. The pharmaceutical industry will be very much encouraged by these figures, which show that good progress has been made by the Government in combating animal rights extremism."

The UK's reputation for leading-edge research, innovation and an entrepreneurial approach to science and technology, and pharmaceuticals has made the sector vulnerable to attack by animal rights activists.

As one of Britain's leading manufacturing sectors, bringing in a trade surplus of £3.4 bn (€5 bn) in 2004, the value of UK pharmaceutical exports in 2005 was £12.2bn, more than £166,000 per employee.

The ABPI attributes the reduction to a three-pronged strategy of new legislation; enhanced policing with co-ordinated enquiries; and working with stakeholders to combat attacks.

"While this success is to be celebrated, it is vital to sustain the effort to ensure that business confidence can continue to build and that suppliers of services to those engaged in medicines research are no longer afraid to carry out their legitimate business,"​ Wright added.

Related topics: Preclinical Research

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