Charity that privately prosecuted animal abusers closes mid-inquiry

06 Feb 2024 News

By wedninth, Adobe

An animal charity that carried out private prosecutions has closed amid an investigation by the Charity Commission.

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into Animal Protection Services (APS) in March 2022 over concerns raised by a judge about some of the private prosecutions the charity had brought against pet owners. 

According to the Commission’s website, the charity has now entered liquidation although the regulator’s investigation is ongoing.

A source close to APS told Civil Society that it closed due to the “negative publicity” it received from the judge’s comments.

Meanwhile, another investigation into the charity by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has closed after it identified insufficient evidence to support allegations of professional misconduct, according to documents seen by Civil Society. 

Inquiry to remain open

Set up in 2019, APS was a charity that operated a helpline for members of the public to report organised animal cruelty, investigated these cases and brought private prosecutions to court. 

The Charity Commission opened its investigation after some of the prosecutions relating to the alleged unlawful or unlicensed sale of pets were dismissed at trial. 

“The judges raised concerns that the charity had a financial incentive for bringing prosecutions. Evidence from these trials was submitted to the regulator,” it said at the time. 

At the time the inquiry opened, APS said it would continue with its mission and cooperate with the regulator’s investigation.

However, it has since closed.

The regulator told Civil Society that the closure of a charity under inquiry has no bearing on the investigation. 

“We are aware that Animal Protection Services is no longer operating and is insolvent, which is reflected on our public register,” a Commission spokesperson said. 

“Our inquiry into the charity remains ongoing and will continue until all concerns are sufficiently addressed.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

More on