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The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) has a long-established Animal Licence Holder (ALH) Accreditation Board. The main purpose of which is to provide accreditation to approved UK modular training courses held throughout the UK, and beyond, where applicable. Modular courses provide training to all personnel wishing to work with laboratory animals under authority of The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and associated legislation. UK accreditation of courses is also provided by the Universities Training Group (UTG), and predominantly in Scotland by the Scottish Accreditation Board (SAB).

The new European Directive 2010/63 (to replace EU 86/609) was finalised and came into force across the EU in November 2010. Full implementation of the Directive commenced 1st January 2013. The main legally binding parts of the text are the ‘articles’ and ‘annexes’. The introductory ‘recitals’ are intended to explain and justify the rest of the Directive, but little weight should be given to the recitals for interpreting the Directive. The goal of the Directive is three-fold:

  1. To 'harmonise' animal research legislation across EU countries, to ensure a level playing field throughout the EU for industry and the research community.
  2. To strengthen the protection for animals used in scientific procedures in line with the EC Treaty of Rome protocol on animal welfare.
  3. To implement fully the principles of the 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement of the use of animals for research).

The European Commission established an Expert Working Group (EWG) to develop a common education and training framework for the EU to fulfil the requirements under Articles 23, and 24 of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. All Members States and main stakeholder organisations were invited to nominate experts to participate in the work. The EWG met on 22 - 23 February and 19-20 September 2012, and 3-4 July 2013.

The EWG agreed that training for personnel wishing to work with animals should be:

  • Flexible
  • Available and Accessible
  • Affordable
  • Agreed Quality

There are 4 main ‘Functions’ of personnel that require training:

  1. Function A: Persons performing procedures – in the UK this would be the PERSONAL licence holder.
  2. Function B: Persons designing procedures – in the UK this would be the PROJECT licence holder.
  3. Function C: Persons caring for animals – in the UK this would be an Animal Technologist.
  4. Function D: Persons humanely killing animals – in the UK this would normally be Animal Care Staff.

The Chair of the RSB ALH Accreditation Board (Fraser Darling) was the UK Home Office nominated expert who attended these important discussions at the European Commission. All UK modular courses for personnel wishing to work with animals now follow the working document on the development of a common education and training framework to fulfil the requirements under the Directive.

RSB Responsibilities as an Accrediting Body

The main responsibilities of the Royal Society of Biology Animal Licence Holder (ALH) Accrediting Board are to:

  1. Offer advice and information to prospective course providers;
  2. Approve or accredit courses which respond to the agreed quality criteria;
  3. Ensure consistency of content and outcomes across modules;
  4. Ensure compliance with declared objectives and procedures in relation to the delivery of training and assessment of the set Learning Outcomes;
  5. Apply and review the mechanisms for monitoring the successful outcome of training and assessment.

EU guidance is developed to respond to a need for harmonisation and a common framework to ensure competence and to facilitate free movement of personnel. It is important to note that the outcome is on the basis of general agreement and not binding. It is left to each Member State to interpret whether and how this general guidance is to be implemented. However, any agreement at EU level on general principles will also assist those developing training courses to work towards common, acceptable standards. This in return should result in a wider offering of available training courses to promote the aims of availability, accessibility and affordability.

The EU2010/63 common education and training framework includes consideration of the training, supervision, competence assessment and continuing training requirements of persons carrying out procedures, taking care of animals, killing animals and of those responsible for the design of procedures and projects.

The common education and training framework facilitates and assures the competence of all persons involved in the use, care and breeding of animals for scientific procedures, and assists the free movement of personnel.

Caring for Animals - aiming for better science

The ALH Accreditation Board has been in existence for 25 years and provides accreditation to a wide variety of clients based with academia, commercial, charity and private companies. Our client base includes Charles River UK, Covance Laboratories, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), Medical Research Council (MRC), dstl, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Porton Down. We have accredited other organisations throughout the European Union where applicable, and supported training and accreditation for USA-based personnel who are required by their organisation to work periodically within the UK.

RSB has close links with Fondazione Guido Bernardini based in Italy, that was established in 2009 as an independent, non-profit organization in memory of Guido Bernardini

FGB is devoted to continuing education and training of professionals involved in the care, welfare and use of laboratory animals; the overall mission is to support the humane and responsible use of animals in science and to promote the quality of biomedical research by encouraging high standards of knowledge and competence in scientific and technical staff.

The courses and scientific events are dedicated to an international audience to improve the harmonization of principles and attitudes. The syllabi of the courses are developed and regularly updated to include new subjects and innovative technologies.

Fondazione Guido Bernardini

Members of the ALH Accreditation Board provide their services free of charge and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We have representatives from Industry, veterinarians, and others from Academia, and contract research providers.

Whilst we meet several times each year, we try whenever possible to conduct business electronically. The Royal Society of Biology is based at its headquarters in central London, and we meet with our course organisers either on an individual basis at their premises, or annually at our course organisers meeting.

The Royal Society of Biology was a signatory to the recent Concordat to ensure continued openness in the use of animals in biomedical research, and we will continue to provide information to our stakeholders and other interested parties on the work that we perform.

Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

As an organisation responsible for training, we are committed to the principles of the 3Rs: Reduction, Refinement and Replacement in relation to the use of animals in research. If you would like to know more about the ALH Accreditation Board, please contact Fraser Darling at

The 3Rs: their definition, application and importance to your work

Any aspiring in vivo researcher or animal technician should have a firm understanding of how following the principles of the 3Rs can drive better science and improved animal welfare. This 18-minute video presentation from the NC3Rs has been created to serve as a foundation for this understanding, and to encourage scientists and animal technicians to consider and implement the 3Rs throughout their careers. It is also an excellent primer for anyone interested to learn more about the 3Rs in principle and practice.

The video includes:

  • Definitions and explanations of each of the 'Rs'
  • Practical advice on how to implement the 3Rs throughout a research project
  • Video case studies of 3Rs research
  • Information on the various resources the NC3Rs provides to support anyone working with animals in research

For more information on the video presentation and how it can be used to support greater engagement in the 3Rs, see the NC3Rs blog

There is an excellent video presentation by the NC3Rs which can be viewed and downloaded from the NC3Rs website:

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