Summary notes from POLEs workshop, 30th Sept-1st Oct 2019

Ally Palmer, Beth Greenhough, Reuben Message, Pru Hobson-West
Publication date

The Oxford Species and Spaces team's work on animal research in places other than licensed establishments (POLEs) has suggested to us that POLEs researchers can sometimes feel quite isolated from one another and from mainstream laboratory animal welfare research and practice. We therefore decided, with the help of our Nottingham colleagues, to hold a workshop where a range of people with experience at POLEs of various kinds could come together to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practice, and perhaps start to build a network for sharing information and support.

The workshop – held at Keble College on the 30th of September and 1st of October, 2019 – brought together 17 participants, including four from the AnNex team, a member of the AnNex Programme Advisory Committee, and an advisor to one AnNex project. One individual participated remotely. Attendees brought expertise from diverse areas, including: wildlife research and citizen science; research in veterinary clinics, farms, and zoos; and policy, philosophy, and social science relating to animal research.

The workshop began with an opening plenary on wildlife research ethics and regulation by Dr Julie Lane from the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Wildlife Management Centre, and followed with a full day of presentations and discussions. Speakers were asked to respond to a range of questions:

  • How does the ‘type’ of animal – e.g., pets, wild animals, and those housed in zoos or farms – shape ethical obligations, veterinary treatment, and humane end-points? How does A(SP)A manage these ethical obligations and influence decisions?
  • How are boundaries drawn between A(SP)A and non-A(SP)A work, and how do these boundaries shape research and animal welfare practice?
  • How do the general public and other stakeholders engage with research at POLEs?
  • How does taking scientific research with animals out of the laboratory shape the knowledge produced?
  • How is research with animals outside of the laboratory best regulated?

The conversations at the workshop were wide-ranging, touching on practical, regulatory, and ethical issues relating to POLEs under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (A(SP)A), as well as other unregulated work with animals outside of the laboratory.

The workshop was invite-only, and designed small to maximise the sharing of experiences. Attendees did not necessarily speak ‘on behalf’ of their organisation. These notes represent a short summary record of the main topics of discussion that cut across presentations on the day. Because the workshop was intended as a ‘safe space’ for participants to discuss their views openly, specific details on presenters or their areas of work are not included.