Animal research  Animal research: the regulatory framework

In the UK, the use of animals in scientific research is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA).

ASPA was revised in 2012 in the light of a European Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. ASPA is implemented by the Home Office in England, Scotland and Wales.

In a nutshell (and at the risk of over-simplification), any scientific work which may cause animals pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm is unlawful unless it is covered by three licences from the Home Office:

  1. An establishment licence which designates the premises on which scientific procedures may be carried out. Provision also exists for work to be carried out in some circumstances at a Place Other than the Designated Establishment (PODE). Such PODE work normally covers observational studies or minor regulated procedures such as taking a blood sample for health monitoring or genotyping in the wild or in a farm setting.
  2.  A project licence, which sets out the purpose of the particular line of research, the techniques to be employed and the predicted severity limits of those techniques.  
  3. A personal licence, granted to individual scientists working on the project once they have satisfactorily completed appropriate training.

Read the full Home Office animal testing and research guidance.