Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Animal research

Medical research improves the understanding and treatment of disease. Despite
advances in other methodologies, the Academy believes that research using
animals is sometimes essential.5 The Academy supports the ‘3Rs’ that seek to:
replace the use of animals where possible, reduce the number of animals used
and refine procedures in order to minimise suffering. 6 In discussing animal
research, particularly that which involves primates, the Academy acknowledges
that the Home Office is principally concerned with the regulation of this work
rather than carrying it out.
Research using animals in the UK is regulated by the Home Office, which is
advised by the Animal Procedures Committee (APC). The current system seeks
to ensure the highest possible standards of welfare for animals in scientific
procedures. The Academy endorses the verdict of the Davidson Review, which
concluded that UK legislation governing the use of animals in scientific
procedures goes beyond the requirements of European Directive 86/609/EEC,
and recommended that statistical returns process, personal and project
licenses, should be simplified.7 8
In the case of non-human primates, the Academy wishes to draw the OSI’s
attention to the Weatherall report that concluded that there is a strong
scientific case for the carefully regulated use of non-human primates in
research where there are no other means to address clearly defined questions
of particular biological or medical importance. 9 Of particular relevance to the
use of science in the Home Office are recommendations to:
· introduce retrospective reporting on the severity of procedures for nonhuman
· accelerate work towards improving and applying current best-practice
regarding housing of non-human primates;
· further efforts to improve interactions between regulatory bodies at
national and international levels and between regulatory bodies and the
scientific community;
· act on the recommendations of the forthcoming National Centres for the
3Rs and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry study on
regulatory toxicology and re-examine responses to the 2002 APC report;
· urgently examine concerns that the costs and harassment by activists
are forcing scientists and research companies to purse non-human
primates work overseas; and
· give careful consideration of the creation of UK centres of excellence for
non-human primate research.
Health and criminal justice are hugely important services that are encountered
by almost everyone and rightly receive substantial resources from government.
The quality of these services is, in part, dependent upon the knowledge and
information that underpins them. Research that is relevant to the Home Office’s
mission of ‘building a safe, just and tolerant society’ is organised and integrated
with its services in a fundamentally different way from the organisation of
medical science and its subsequent integration with health services. 10 These
differences not only relate to the quality, management and use of science, but
also apply more widely in university departments and in public services relevant
to Home Office functions.
Similarly, the production of evidence fundamental to the roles of the Home
Office is organised very differently from evidence production in the medical
sciences. Research can be thought of as a continuum from basic to applied. In
the health services these categories of research have a similar status, but in
the Home Office there is much more emphasis on the theoretical, which
considers matters such as the causes of crime, rather than on applied research,
which considers matters such as interventions to prevent crime.11 A continuum
between fundamental and applied research in the Home, as is the case the
medical sciences, is important.
A principal symptom of this imbalance – and lack of emphasis on applied
science - is the absence of university police or offender management schools
and a lack of recognition of police science or offender management science in
research-intensive universities. 12 13 This model contrasts sharply with the
situation in the medical sciences where clinical academics at medical schools,
within or closely associated with hospitals and universities, integrate research,
training and service delivery. The success and widespread support for this
approach in the medical sciences perhaps indicates that it would be appropriate
for other fields such as criminal justice that would benefit from the translation
of basic research into applications.14 15The Home Office should lead the
recognition and development of police and offender management science in the
Home Office, the higher education sector and in police and offender
management services.

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