RCVS Council has been considering the costs, advantages and disadvantages of bringing private prosecutions against people and organizations that breach the Veterinary Surgeons Act.
A paper introduced by the RCVS Registrar Eleanor Ferguson looked at the possibility of the RCVS prosecuting, for example, unqualified individuals undertaking veterinary work and courses falsely purporting to lead to a registrable qualification.
The paper also explored other options, including better educating animal owners about veterinary services and assisting people with concerns about the breaches of the VSA to raise them with the authorities.
Council heard that over the past year, the RCVS had assisted other agencies on investigations of suspected VSA breaches on a number of occasions.
It was considered that the RCVS could consider undertaking its own private investigations and criminal prosecutions when statutory prosecuting authorities did not have the resources to pursue these cases.
However, the RCVS has no statutory powers of investigation, so if it did pursue a private prosecution, it would have no powers to carry out a criminal investigation or compel evidence.
Council members voted for a further paper setting out a draft policy on private prosecutions, as well as what general information regarding breaches of the Veterinary Surgeons Act could be provided to members of the public and the professions.
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