The University of Cambridge takes the position that compliance with the law and associated Codes of Practice relating to animal welfare is the minimum operating standard. To this end, the University has management procedures to ensure that considerations of the 3Rs (the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research) are embedded into all aspects of our strategic and operation management and a well-developed governance system, which is currently undergoing a full independent review to identify areas for improvement.
The University recognises that its position globally as a centre of research excellence comes with the associated responsibility of ensuring that all research with animals is similarly undertaken with a priority in achieving the highest welfare standards. This underpins the University Animal Welfare Policy which is currently under review to strengthen this position.
There are no restrictions based upon available resource for weekend and out-of-hours working, and all staff are clearly informed that they must deal with any welfare issues when problems arise. Three full-time Named Veterinary Surgeons (NVS) are employed together with access to additional veterinary support to ensure 365 day veterinary cover for research animals.
The University actively encourages the reporting of animal welfare concerns by all staff, Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWOs) and NVS, including the ability for all people involved in animal welfare and research to communicate directly with the Establishment Licence Holder (ELH). The ELH has made clear to all staff that ‘whistleblowing’ with respect to any aspect of failings in welfare standards is part of their role, regardless of seniority. The relationships and interactions between researchers and technical/husbandry staff is being enhanced by various initiatives
The ELH chairs the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body and all constituent committees and aims to attend all facility management group meetings. In addition, the ELH has regular meetings with the NVS and NACWOs and actively/directly oversees the management of governance. University Policies developed by the AWERB are implemented in all research facilities. Standardised documentation is used where appropriate, including the use of ‘Study Plans’ to enable NACWOs to monitor animal research activities and aid in compliance.
The University has a dedicated department supporting the function of the ELH, AWERB Committees, the NVS’ and administration of the PPLs and PILS in addition to operating a dedicated and accredited animal welfare Training School.
The University has commissioned a full independent review of the governance and management of animal research following a management restructure and the transition to the ASPA (1986) 2012 Amendment, to ensure we are fully compliant, operating to the highest standards and outlining ways we can improve. The results of this review will be published.
The University recognises that however stringent our management systems are, failings and mistakes can happen with our animal research and that individuals may fall short of exercising the highest standards of animal care and welfare. However, if, and when these failings are identified, they will not be tolerated and will be dealt with seriously and swiftly.