Animal research legislation
UK animal research is governed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amended Regulations 2012 (A(SP)A) and regulated by the Home Office (a branch of the UK government).
Under A(SP)A animal research must:
- be carried out at a licensed establishment
- be part of a licensed project
- be conducted by an investigator with their own personal licence, and who is competent in the procedures on live animals.
Home Office inspectors visit facilities regularly to ensure full compliance with A(SP)A and good practice.
The Crick is a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, which sets out how organisations report the use of animals in scientific, medical and veterinary research in the UK.
We consider all animal work at the Crick carefully, weighing the potential benefits of the research against the potential harm to the animals, as per our Animals in Research Policy.
Before any work involving animals begins, our Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) scrutinises it to ensure that the researchers can only answer their scientific question by using animals, that the experiments cause as little harm to the animals as possible, and all measures are taken to minimise animal suffering like the appropriate use of anaesthesia and analgesia (pain relief) and the use of aseptic techniques in surgical procedures
AWERB’s functions are divided between several committees to ensure it fulfils its responsibilities. The AWERB is led by the Biological Research Facility’s Strategic Oversight Committee (BRF-SOC), supported by three key subcommittees:
- Production, Use, Care and 3Rs, which promotes the 3Rs, ensuring a culture of care and good practice
- Project Licence Review, which considers applications for new project licences and amendments to existing projects to ensure that the work proposed is necessary and ethically justified
- Animal Accommodation, Compliance and Environment, which monitors the housing conditions of animals.
Members for the committees are drawn from across the institute, and there is some crossover between committees, leading to effective decision making and communication flow. There are also procedures in place to make sure no one is involved in making decisions about their own projects.
We include non-scientists from outside the Crick on the committees, to provide an external view and challenge proposed projects that they are not comfortable with.
Several supporting groups also provide feedback to these AWERB committees: the Named Persons Forum, the Technician Discussion Group, and unit specific and function user groups.