Legislation, Governance and Standards

This page outlines the UK regulations and guidelines on research using animals and the ethical review process in place at Liverpool which approves any research to be carried out using animals.

UK regulations on research using animals

Animal research in the UK is strictly regulated. The laws on research using animals are set out in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, or ‘ASPA’. The legislation describes in detail what is required to undertake any research involving animals and includes guidance on housing, care and welfare of the animals, as well as the strict licensing, training and monitoring processes involved in research itself.

ASPA has a three-level licensing system (for the person, the project and the place):

  • Those carrying out regulated procedures must hold a ‘personal licence’, which authorises them to apply those procedures to specified animals, initially under supervision until they have demonstrated competence.
  • The regulated procedures to be carried out must be authorised by a ‘project licence’ which specifies the programme of work within which the procedures are being performed
  • The place at which the work is carried out must normally be specified in an ‘establishment licence’.

Licences are issued by the Home Office in England, Scotland and Wales and by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI) in Northern Ireland.

This legislation requires the University to open our facilities to frequent, unannounced visits by Government-appointed inspectors.

Ethical review process

All our research involving animals is considered by our local Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB), which can request amendments to a program of work or a refusal to allow the work to be carried out as planned.

The University of Liverpool AWERB is chaired by an academic with 30 years of animal work involvement and includes a named veterinary surgeon (NVS), experienced senior scientists who are experts in different fields, a lay person (who has no links to the University), a number of named animal care and welfare officers (NACWOs) and any other person the Chair might ask to provide advice.

ARRIVE Guidelines

We also fully support and endorse the ARRIVE guidelines (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments). These guidelines are intended to improve the reporting of research using animals – maximising information published and minimising unnecessary studies.

The ARRIVE guidelines were developed in consultation with the scientific community as part of an NC3Rs initiative to improve the standard of reporting of research using animals.

Concordat on Openness on Animal Research

We are a signatory to the concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, which has been developed by Understanding Animal Research in collaboration with leading research institutes. The concordat aims to broaden understanding and acceptance of humane animal use in biomedical research, and calls for research institutes to be transparent with the public about all aspects of research conducted using animals.

The concordat consists of four commitments:

  • We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  • We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  • We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  • We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.