There were no personal assaults by animal extremists in 2006 and big falls in abusive messages, as well as instances of damage to property were also reported, according to figures released today by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). These follow on from encouraging figures reported in 2005 and now reflect a sustained downward trend in violent and intimidating animal extremism.
There were just 20 'home visits' in 2006 - where groups of demonstrators gather outside a family home and cause civil disturbance - compared to 57 in 2005 and the peak of 259 in 2003.
"We are especially pleased to see a sharp fall in attacks on people's homes," said ABPI Science & Technology Director, Dr Philip Wright. "This behaviour is particularly intimidating and threatening. It affects whole families, including young children, as well as the wider community."
Crucially, however, the numbers taking part in peaceful protests has remained constant - showing that new laws brought in to tackle extremism have not harmed the rights of freedom of speech.
"We welcome continued effort by police to crack down on illegal activities," said Dr Wright. "New legislation has helped, as has some significant arrests and sentences of leading extremists. These statistics show that extremist behaviour has been curbed but not defeated and we have already had reports of further attacks in the first weeks of 2007 -government efforts must be maintained.
"We have also seen indications of a displacement to mainland Europe. The proposed amendments in the new serious crime bill that would allow restriction of travel by organised criminals would help in restricting the UK's currently most successful export."
The figures show the number of abusive or threatening letters and text messages received by companies and their suppliers fell from 36 in 2005 to just six in 2006. In 2006, there were 50 instances of damage to property compared with 86 the previous year.
Perhaps as a result, the number of "capitulations" - companies and organisations succumbing to pressure not to work with those involved in animal research - has also sharply declined, with 39 in 2006 compared with 103 in 2005.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office +44 (0)207 747 1410