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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.