Our animals are housed in specially designed units where they can live comfortably. The environment is regulated by UK and EU law and overseen by stringent University governance – it is managed by a dedicated and highly trained team of animal technicians.
The use of live animals in research at all research institutions is governed by UK and EU law. This legislation only allows the use of animals in research when there are no alternatives and where the expected benefits outweigh any adverse effects.
As a consequence, our small portfolio of research which uses animals is covered by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (1986) / EU Directive 2010/63/EU and Home Office Licensing.
All research centres, including Plymouth University, have to apply to the Home Office for an overall Establishment Licence which governs laboratory space which houses research using animals.
Researchers responsible for each new research proposal have to apply for a Project Licence. Researchers who intend to work with animals must have relevant training in order to hold a Personal Licence.
Our work with animals takes place in specialist facilities approved by the Home Office. These facilities are called Designated Rooms.
Home Office inspectors have the remit to make regular visits to laboratories which use animals, sometimes unannounced.
Our research involving animals is overseen by our Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board. The Board includes animal technicians, researchers, Named Persons* as specified by A(SP)A 1986, and lay members who are not directly involved in research which uses animals.
*Named Persons are individuals identified on the Establishment Licence whose role under ASPA is to help the Establishment Licence Holder/Named Person Responsible for Compliance fulfil their responsibilities. They include a ‘Named Veterinary Surgeon’, a ‘Named Animal Care & Welfare Officer’, ‘Named Information Officer’ and ‘Named Training and Competence Officer.’
It is this Board which discusses each research project in order to agree if the benefits of the research justify the use of animals. Members of the Board also discuss whether there are alternatives to using animals or if there can be ways to reduce the number of animals used. The process is a rigorous and thorough one and agreement for the use of animals is not made lightly.
Researchers at Plymouth University are supported by a vet and a dedicated technical team. As well as looking after the day-to-day care of animals, this team is responsible for training researchers and ensuring high levels of animal welfare.
In addition, Plymouth University is a signatory of the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.