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Regulations governing animal research

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The use of animals in research is regulated by the Home Office, under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), which is widely regarded as the tightest set of such controls in the world. 

The ASPA requires that the following licences are obtained by a research institution before any animal research can be undertaken:

  • A Personal Licence must be obtained by each person carrying out procedures on animals. Personal licence holders are responsible for the welfare of the research animals. Applicants are only granted a personal licence once they are properly trained and have the skills and experience to look after the research animals properly.
  • A Project Licence is issued to researchers who are able to direct a well-justified programme of research work. For each project using animals, researchers must show that the number of animals to be used cannot be reduced, the research methodology cannot be further refined and that there are no suitable non-animal methods which could replace animal use.
  • An Establishment Licence for the place where the work is carried out. The Establishment Licence Holder is responsible for ensuring that the fabric and staffing of the places designated for animal research are properly maintained. The Establishment Licence Holder must take all reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised procedures from being carried out and is responsible for making sure that everyone working with research animals has adequate training.

Under the terms of the ASPA, institutions carrying out animal research must appoint “Named” individuals to ensure that the welfare and care of animals is safeguarded. This includes a Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO); a Named Information Officer (NIO); A Named Training and Competency Officer (NTCO); and a Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS).  All these individuals are accountable to the Establishment Licence Holder.