Any establishment that is designated under theAnimal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is required by the Secretary of State to establish and maintain an Ethical Review Process. The guidance to the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 gives three core aims of this process which are:
To provide independent ethical advice to the Certificate Holder, particularly with respect to project licence applications and standards of animal care and welfare.
To provide support to named persons and advice to licensees regarding animal welfare and ethical issues arising from their work.
To promote the use of ethical analysis to increase awareness of animal welfare issues and develop initiatives leading to the widest possible application of the 3R's (Reduction, refinement and replacement).
The Ethical Review Process involves individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including vets, animal welfare officers, scientists and lay people.
The Ethical Review Process will critically assess Project Licence applications and any request for research involving animals that is not covered by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Ethical Review Process considers many different areas when assessing applications. These include the scientific benefit of the work weighed against the cost to the animals involved, the application of the 3R's (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) in the proposed work and also the facilities and expertise that are available at the establishment.
The Ethical Review Process will then provide constructive feedback to the applicant along with any recommendations they feel appropriate regarding the programme of work. Any comments/recommendations must be addressed by the applicant to the satisfaction of the Ethical Review Process before the application is approved.
Appendix J in the Guidance to the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 provides more detailed information on the function of the Ethical Review Process. The Laboratory Animal Science Association has produced a document designed to aid establishments with good practice within the Ethical Review Process.