The Countryside Alliance has blasted the RSPCA after it sought new legal powers to enter people’s gardens, sheds and outbuildings without notifying the police.
The animal rights charity, which has been heavily criticised by the rural community in recent years because of a perceived anti-farming stance, is in talks with Government officials and police chiefs about getting the new powers to ‘rescue animals’.
Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “However you dress it up, this can mean only one thing. The RSPCA wants statutory powers of entry on to private property and intends to use its huge £140 million annual budget in pursuit of those powers.
“Not happy with being moral arbiter, investigator and prosecutor of criminal offences, the RSPCA now wants the power to enter your land, access your garden and break down your front door if it believes an offence is being committed.”
The news follows calls from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee for the charity to be stripped of its role as prosecutor of first resort in animal welfare cases.
Further controversy arose when chief executive Jeremy Cooper resigned last month after just a year in post, before a five-year recovery plan could be completed.
Mr Cooper had been forced to say the organisation would ‘make friends’ after admitting his predecessor had alienated farmers with his promise to name and shame those who took part in the badger cull.
Other criticism of the RSPCA stemmed from the election of Peta Watson-Smith to its ruling council in 2016. Ms Watson-Smith is a hardline vegan who once compared farming to the Holocaust, drawing condemnation from countryside groups and the Jewish community.
Mr Bonner continued: “To even suggest the state should entrust an organisation this flawed with far-reaching and fundamental powers over its citizens shows how deluded the RSPCA is, but do not expect any dawn of reality.
“Instead, the RSPCA’s council will undoubtedly pursue its political aim with zeal, and with money donated to improve the welfare of animals.”
An RSPCA spokesman said the charity had been seeking the powers to rescue distressed animals since 2014 and sister organisations in Scotland and Ireland already had them.