PERPETRATORS in Sheffield who cut the spines off a hedgehog using a pair of scissors should be found and prosecuted for their actions, a former justice secretary has said.
Chris Grayling described the incident, raised in the House of Commons by Labour MP Angela Smith, as “utterly unacceptable” as he urged the relevant authorities to take the matter “very seriously”.
The abused animal, named Frankie by carers, was discovered by a maintenance man in student accommodation at Sheffield University.
Ms Smith, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “In the middle of all the work I’ve done on the steel industry recently and local transport I received a phone call from a distraught couple who run a hedgehog rescue centre in my constituency.
“They are currently nursing back to health a hedgehog found in Sheffield the other week whose spines had been cut off by a pair of scissors.
“Now, they expressed to me their frustration that the perpetrators of this wicked act are very unlikely to be brought to justice.
“Can we have a debate, not only on the need to extend and increase the population of hedgehogs... but also on the need to increase protection for these wonderful creatures?”
Mr Grayling, who is now the Leader of the House of Commons, replied: “I absolutely agree. I saw the picture of that hedgehog. It was absolutely shocking.
“It does sometimes beggar belief how low and unpleasant some people in our society can be. Utterly, utterly unacceptable.
“Of course we do from time to time find extraordinary examples of maltreatment of animals.
“What I would say to you is the law does allow prosecution of people who have committed those offences and I certainly would hope in a case like the one of that hedgehog, if the perpetrators could be found they would be prosecuted.
“Of course that’s a matter for the independent prosecution authorities but I would certainly urge them to take that issue very seriously.”
He said the Government would continue to look at ways to ensure there is “proper protection for animals in our society”.