The number of attacks by animal rights activists on staff working in the pharmaceutical industry has fallen sharply, according to new figures.
The first half of 2006 saw a significant drop in illegal acts against employees, including abusive messages and e-mails, arson and ‘home visits’ – attacks on people’s homes, usually in the middle of the night, causing damage and leaving threatening messages from extremists.
‘Home visit’ incidents have declined dramatically to just 15. This is less than half the number in the same period last year, and 14% of the total for the first six months of 2004.
Dr Philip Wright, director of science and technology at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which compiled the figures, said they marked a sea change in the level of attacks and harassment in the UK.
“The new figures also show a drop in virtually every area of illegal activity by extremists,” he said. “The pharmaceutical industry will be very much encouraged by these figures, which show that good progress has been made by the government in combating animal rights extremism.”
The ABPI attributes the reduction to a three-pronged strategy of new legislation, enhanced policing with co-ordinated enquiries and working with stakeholders to combat attacks.
“While this success is to be celebrated, it is vital to sustain the effort to ensure that business confidence can continue to build and that suppliers of services to those engaged in medicine research are no longer afraid to carry out their legitimate business,” Wright said.