Torbay MP Kevin Foster: New criminal offence cracks down on pet theft

One of eight miniature dachshunds which we stolen in February 2021

A new criminal offence for pet abduction is set to be introduced. - Credit: PA

A new criminal offence for pet abduction is set to be introduced as part of Government plans to crack down on pet theft, following a reported rise in pets being stolen during the pandemic.

The new offence is one of several recommendations in a report published last week by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce.

It also follows Devon and Cornwall Police appointing a specialist officer to fight a rising number of dog thefts across our region, which our Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez pledged to tackle when re-elected in May.

I have sought assurances this new offence will not see a reduction in the sentencing powers judges have available to them.

Currently, when charged under the existing theft offence, a sentence of up to seven years in prison is available.

While maximum sentences are rarely given, they do influence whether criminals are likely to end up in prison or get a community sentence instead.

The theft of a pet is very different to having your computer or car stolen, it is like losing one of the family.

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Hence the focus on catching and punishing those responsible, alongside the creation of this new offence, is very welcome.  

Housing 

Torbay Council has recently agreed to use a hotel as an interim solution to assist with an ongoing housing shortage being faced by Torbay residents and keyworkers. 

The OYO Richmond Hotel on Croft Road, Torquay will provide a combination of temporary family accommodation and keyworker accommodation for a six-month period.

The use of a hotel is not ideal but, in the short term, this is a better alternative to being placed outside our area while looking for a permanent home.

Solving our housing problem will not be easy, so it is vital work continues to identify new housing, bring empty properties back into use and drive forward regeneration schemes on sites such as Crossways in Paignton and long derelict sites in Torquay town centre which could be delivering new homes.

The Government has done its bit to support this by providing £21.9m of funding to the Torquay Town Deal and just under £13.5m for Paignton’s Future High Streets project, we now need to ensure work gets underway.  

Bins 

Delayed recycling collections need action, but the suggestion from Torbay Council’s leadership temporary visas for European truck drivers would make a difference missed two key points.

The first is a year-round bin collection service which operates on a permanent basis hardly fits a description of 'temporary' work.

Second, there is a major shortage of HGV drivers across the EU.

The real solution lies in increasing driver training and improving the packages frontline staff are offered. 

Surgery times 

My next surgeries are on Friday, September 10, 3pm to 5pm at Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street TQ3 3BN and Saturday, September 18, 11am to 1pm at Torquay Library, Lymington Road TQ1 3DT.

Sadly, my surgeries must remain appointment only at this stage given the prevailing public health guidance. 

For an appointment you can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989.

You can also drop into my office at 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD between 10am and 1pm Monday to Friday.

Please note you may have to wait outside if others attend at the same time.