What is an investigation?
An investigation is launched every time RSPCA Assured receives a complaint or is made aware of potential welfare issues on one of its member’s sites. These could be made by farmworkers, other animal welfare organisations, RSPCA Farm Livestock Officers (FLOs), RSPCA Assured Assessors or members of the public.
As an animal welfare charity, we take allegations of negligence or cruelty very seriously. A number of steps are taken to allow RSPCA Assured to quickly get to the bottom of each complaint and to ensure that no animals are currently at risk.
Our priority is to establish what has happened, when, where, how, who was involved and of course what has been the impact on animals. Complaints that are sent to us promptly and provide lots of information, such as photographs, videos, addresses and dates give us a really clear starting point. However, sometimes complaints lack key information or are made a long time after the fact, making them much more complex and difficult for us to investigate.
How are investigations conducted?
Once we’ve established the basic facts, our first step is to get an RSPCA Farm Livestock Officer (FLO) or one of our own RSPCA Assured Assessors on-site as quickly as possible to check out the situation in person. We try to make sure that these visits are unannounced, however, sometimes this isn’t possible, particularly during national lockdowns or when the sites are in very remote locations.
While on-site, a detailed report is made, and if relevant, evidence such as videos, photos and copies of paperwork are gathered.
We review this report and speak with the person who visited the site before making a decision on what will happen next. Each case is unique and is considered carefully, so the outcomes of our investigations are highly individual.
These can range from our discovery that there was no substance to the original complaint and that we are happy to close the investigation without further action, to permanently withdrawing the farm’s membership and involving the authorities.
What happens after an investigation?
Depending on the findings of the investigation sanctions may be applied that can include follow-up inspections. Find out more about our investigation process and sanctions guidelines.