Dog thefts: Priti Patel accused of not taking stealing of pets seriously despite vow to tackle crime

Priti Patel said in February that she was "looking at what we can do" to stamp down on dog thefts but one MP has claimed that the Home Secretary is “not treating this growing problem with the seriousness that it deserves.”

The Home Secretary has been accused of failing to take dog thefts seriously despite vowing to tackle the “absolutely shocking” crime.

Priti Patel said in February that she was "looking at what we can do" to stamp down on these crimes and would “go after” those responsible.

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However, a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request has revealed the Home Office has no information on any meetings on the issue involving Ms Patel since October 2020.

Tim Farron said Home Secretary Priti Patel is failing to take dog thefts seriously

It comes as new figures revealed that dog theft has increased by nearly a fifth during lockdown, with up to seven pets being reported as stolen every day in 2020.

‘Dog theft should be a specific crime’

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Tim Farron said: "It's very concerning that the Home Secretary might not be treating this growing problem with the seriousness that it deserves.

"Dog theft should be a specific crime, and treated with much more gravity given that our pets are part of our families.

"I'd want the Home Secretary to show that she understands that and to give us some hope that she will take the action that dog owners are demanding."

‘I’m looking at what we can do’

In February, Ms Patel stopped short of committing to tougher new laws but said the Home Office was "definitely looking into what kind of measures can be put in place in terms of the criminality".

She said "this is absolutely shocking, it's a shocking crime that is taking place", adding that she understood in London "it's very prevalent right now".

She told LBC Radio: "I'm looking at this, I am absolutely looking at what we can do."

What the Freedom of Information revealed

The Home Office was asked for details of meetings held by Ms Patel to discuss - in full or in part - the issue of theft of dogs or other pets since October 2020.

The FOI request also covered documentation, agendas, minutes and related correspondence.

An official Home Office reply said: "We have carried out a thorough search and we have established that the Home Office does not hold the information which you have requested."