Vivisection statistics and committee proceedings

Jessica Groling made this Freedom of Information request to University of Leeds

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Jessica Groling

Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to request information concerning experimentation on or other work involving live animals undertaken by the University of Leeds, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please would you provide me with the following information:

1. Minutes, reports and correspondence of any Ethical Review Committee or sub-committee at University or any other level, including but not limited to departmental committees, from the last three years, where these relate to experimentation on or other work involving live animals, in addition to any guidance issued by these committees at any time if it is currently in use.

2. A list of the courses and specific teaching modules, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, currently offering the opportunity to participate in experimentation on live animals.

3. A list of the courses and specific teaching modules, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, currently requiring participation in experimentation on live animals.

4. A breakdown of currently held project licenses within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 by maximum severity limits for procedures, for the unclassified, mild, moderate and substantial limits.

5. The numbers of regulated procedures within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 carried out by the University, in each year for which you hold data.

6. A breakdown by species of the numbers of animals used in these procedures, in each year for which you hold data.

7. The total estimated cost of research, teaching and training involving experimentation on or other work involving live animals, in each year for which you hold data, including some information relating to how the figure was arrived at and what expenditure is included.

8. Copies of the annual statistical returns of procedures carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 submitted to the Home Office, in each year for which you hold data.

9. The numbers of animals procured and subsequently killed as surplus to the requirements of programmes of work, in each year for which you hold data.

I would like to stress that I am not interested in information that identifies individuals who are or were involved in animal experimentation. I am happy for you to redact names from information you release if you believe this to be appropriate. I have structured the request as a list of numbered specific enquiries so that if there are problems in fulfilling some of these, it should be possible for you to proceed with the others.

Furthermore, I am happy for the phrase "each year for which you hold data", as found in several of the requests above, to be altered to "each of the last three years" if, and only if, this would prevent the cost of providing a response from exceeding the statutory limit.

If you require any clarification from me in order to comply with this request, please contact me at the earliest opportunity. I look forward to receiving the information requested within 20 working days. If for any reason you are not able to provide the information within that time please write to me explaining why, and telling me when you expect to provide the information.

I am grateful for your time and assistance in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Jessica Groling

Jessica Groling

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing with regard to my Freedom of Information request from 14th June 2009. I have not yet received the information I requested, neither have I even received confirmation that you have received my request.

Please let me know as soon as possible when I can expect a reply to my request, considering the statutory time allowed for this has already lapsed.

Yours faithfully,

Jessica Groling

Freedom of Information, University of Leeds

2 Attachments

Dear Jessica Groling

I write in response to your e-mailed request of the 14th June concerning Vivisection Statistics and committee proceedings. I apologise that the response is a few days later than I had hoped for but it took longer than anticipated to establish the extent to which information was held and could be retrieved in response to your question 7.

The University’s responses to the elements of your request are:

1. Minutes, reports and correspondence of any Ethical Review Committee or sub-committee at University or any other level, including but not limited to departmental committees, from the last three years, where these relate to experimentation on or other work involving live animals, in addition to any guidance issued by these committees at any time if it is currently in use.

The relevant confirmed Minutes and reports are attached as a pdf file. Please note that names have been redacted with information on the number of attendees given in summarised form. I have determined that this information is exempt from disclosure to the public under Section 40 (personal information) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It constitutes personal information the release of which satisfies the conditions set through Sections 40(2) and (3) of the FOIA as its release would breach the fair processing principle contained in the Data Protection Act 1998.

The location of individuals and facilities has also been redacted under the exemption from disclosure to the public set out in Section 38(1)(a) and 38(1)(b) (Health and Safety) of the FOIA. This is a qualified exemption. I have determined that the balance of the public interest is towards securing the health and safety of university staff through not disclosing precise information about locations rather than towards the University’s desire to be transparent about the information it holds and the interest of some individuals in the information.

As you may already be aware the Ethical Review Committee (ERC) is part of a wider process. It holds two types of meetings. One type, usually chaired by the Deputy Chair, meets fairly frequently to consider project applications and proposed amendments to existing licences. The other type is chaired by the Certificate Holder: it meets at least annually and considers general issues, reviews, reports from its sub-groups and, occasionally individual project applications. The ERC has a number of sub-groups which report to it. Where a Group’s work has been relevant to your enquiry its Minutes have been included.

In response to your query about Guidance, the ERC promotes Home Office guidance & codes of practice see - http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov... as well as guidance provided by other bodies such as :
Animal Procedures Committee (APC) www.apc.gov.uk/reference/reports.htm
Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) www.frame.org.uk/page.php?pg_id=9
Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA) publications www.lasa.co.uk/publications.html
National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) www.nc3rs.org.uk/
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagen...
Universities Fund for Animal Welfare (UFAW) www.ufaw.org.uk/public.php

2. A list of the courses and specific teaching modules, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, currently offering the opportunity to participate in experimentation on live animals.

Currently none of the University’s taught modules – as opposed to research modules within taught programmes (see below) - offer undergraduates or postgraduates the opportunity to experiment on live animals within the meaning of ASPA. Taught modules may, of course, offer students the opportunity to observe natural animal behaviour on the farm or in the wild. Because of the elective elements built into the University’s programme arrangements such opportunities may present themselves in a wide variety of programmes.

Individual research or special vacation projects undertaken at undergraduate or taught postgraduate level may, depending on the discipline, also offer the opportunity for students to observe animal behaviour on the farm or in the wild. However, more specifically, it is in Psychology and Biological Sciences where there are opportunities for students to elect to observe ASPA licensed staff undertaking experimentation. A limited number of opportunities are available in the Biological Sciences for final year undergraduate students to elect to undertake a research project involving experimentation on live animals. Such students have to be specifically trained and personally licensed under Home Office requirements for the study being undertaken. The research would only take place within the context of an ASPA licensed project, with supervision of the student by the Project Licence holder.

3. A list of the courses and specific teaching modules, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, currently requiring participation in experimentation on live animals.

The University does not offer any modules at any level which require participation in experimentation on live animals.

4. A breakdown of currently held project licenses within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 by maximum severity limits for procedures, for the unclassified, mild, moderate and substantial limits.

The severity limit of protocols under project licences is, at June 2009, as follows (expressed as a % of all protocols within project licences):
5% Unclassified
38% Mild
57% Moderate
0 Substantial

5. The numbers of regulated procedures within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 carried out by the University, in each year for which you hold data.

Individual Project Licence Holders are required to report this information direct to the Home Office. The University does not collect the information centrally. To collect the information would exceed the cost/time limits set out under Section 12 of the FoIA and in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. You may find it helpful to refer to the Home Office website for further statistical information http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov...

6. A breakdown by species of the numbers of animals used in these procedures, in each year for which you hold data.

The numbers involved are (also attached as a graph which may assist you)
2006 2007 2008
Rats 917 531 539
Mice 4032 4834 6883
Gerbil 90 251 163
Rabbits 0 20 1
Pigs 82 27 2388*
Sheep 0 6 0
Birds 28 24 267
Dogs 20 0 0
Bats 272 122 557
TOTAL 5441 5815 10798

* 2354 pigs were returned to the commercial herd after completion of regulated procedure.

7. The total estimated cost of research, teaching and training involving experimentation on or other work involving live animals, in each year for which you hold data, including some information relating to how the figure was arrived at and what expenditure is included.

It would require significantly in excess of the 18 hours time limit in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 to extract and collate the information needed to answer this question. In any event the information so extracted would not be wholly reliable because of the difficulties associated with estimating the time individual research staff might be devoting directly to working with animals.

8. Copies of the annual statistical returns of procedures carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 submitted to the Home Office, in each year for which you hold data.

Individual Project Licence Holders are required to report this information direct to the Home Office and hence, as with previous questions, collating the information would mean the University would have to undertake work exceeding the cost/time limits set by the FoIA Fees regulations. You may again find it helpful to refer to the Home Office website for statistical information http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov...

9. The numbers of animals procured and subsequently killed as surplus to the requirements of programmes of work, in each year for which you hold data.

No animals have been procured and subsequently killed as surplus to requirements.

If you have any queries about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, you should write to Mr D Wardle, The University Complaints Officer, The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the review/complaints procedure provided by the University. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Janet R Jurica
Senior Assistant Registrar
Secretariat
The University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

tel +44(0)113 343 3625
fax +44(0)113 343 4198

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