On 6th December 2013, the Society of Biology and the Home Office's Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) hosted a joint meeting in London. The use of animals in scientific research was the main focus of this annual event. This year's meeting discussed the implementation of the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act and its severity assessment, the communication amongst several staff roles and the importance of openness and transparency.
The meeting was co-chaired by Dr Judy MacArthur Clark (Head of Animals in Science Regulation, Home Office) and Professor Dominic Wells (Chair of the Animal Science Group, Society of Biology).
The Minister Norman Baker MP addressed the meeting via a recording, emphasising the importance of open communication and the 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction).
The first session examined the implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (as amended by SI 2012/3039) - following the transposition of the European Directive 2010/63/EU.
The following session concentrated on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (as amended by SI 2012/3039) focussing on severity assessment.
The third session addressed the challenges of effective communication amongst scientists, veterinary surgeons (NVS) and animal care staff.
Table discussions afterwards encouraged the group to present additional examples of Good Practice – concerns and comments from different perspectives were gathered and interestingly the overarching themes and the solutions proposed were very similar despite coming from individual representatives. Communication and training in communication were highlighted in particular.
In the fourth session, a panel discussed the current and future challenges of openness and transparency on animals in research.
The panel answered questions from the audience which had been identified during a workshop session. The dialogue focused in particular on the issues around personal security and the definition of academic intellectual property.
A well balanced audience of ASRU members, scientists, vets and animal care staffs from all over the UK was at the heart of the success of this one-day meeting - representing a wide range of interests and expertise. Several workshop groups encouraged an open dialogue between all attendees and provided a good level of energy throughout the day.
* At present, information about animal experiments is partially exempted from the Freedom of Information Act by section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
The following documents and links provide relevant additional information: