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FRAME writes to the Home Office to push for improvements to project licence applications

We recently wrote to the Home Office Animals in Science Regulation Policy Unit with some suggestions that we believe will help strengthen the project licence application process. Project licences are required in the UK for any researcher proposing the use of animals. We want to see more push back on these licences ensuring all researchers have fully explored replacement options first and foremost.

The current guidance was recently updated to include further information on:

  • Why researchers believe they require the use of animals
  • What non-animal methods they considered
  • Where they searched for them
  • Why they aren’t suitable

The updates are a great step forward, but more can be done.

To ensure researchers have fully explored alternatives to animal research, we’ve written to the Home Office on how the licence applications can be further strengthened.

Why do the project licence applications need to be updated again?

Despite it being a legal requirement to fully explore replacements and only use animals if there’s no appropriate non-animal method, we know this isn’t happening. An independent report by the NC3Rs highlighted that replacement is not well covered by any of the legally required review processes. Strengthening the project licences will strengthen the review process and empower researchers to fully explore replacement options.

We have asked the Home Office to include more specific questioning on what replacement efforts have been made to provide more evidence for scrutiny and review. We would like to see a mandatory requirement for researchers to:

  • Reference the specific non-animal methods considered
  • Name the research databases and resources used in searches for non-animal methods
  • List the search terms used
  • Provide details of search results

We would also like to see suggestions for prompts that would help researchers know what to include in each section. This already exists in the refinement and reduction areas of the application.

By strengthening the details required in the replacement section we will be ensuring that researchers fully consider replacement as their priority and that licences are reviewed more robustly.

Only by prioritising non-animal methods will we be able to move forward against animal testing and research and create a world where no animal suffers for science.

What can you do?

Read our full letter to the home office.

Contact your MP and encourage them to follow up on the work of the Animals in Science Regulation Policy Unit’s work – together we can create lasting change!

UPDATE:

We are pleased to have received a response from the Home Office to our recent letter regarding project licence application improvements. Our suggestions will be shared with ASRU as part of their regulatory reform work. We are grateful for our suggestions to be considered and look forward to discussing this further with the policy unit at the next stakeholder meeting.

Read the Home Office response.

Find your MP Read our full letter to the Home Office

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