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Not Quite Terrorism: Animal Rights Extremism in the United Kingdom

Political violence undertaken in the name of animal rights has been ongoing for some 35 years in the United Kingdom and yet such activity is commonly termed extremism, not terrorism. This academic article explores the criminal justice response to the various types of political violence


This article by Dr Rachel Monaghan in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism discusses the criminal justice response to the various types of political violence which have been claimed by groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Animal Rights Militia, the Justice Department, and the Provisional ALF. 

The article argues that terrorist laws do not have to be used to effectively tackle single-issue terrorism such as animal rights extremism where activists employ tactics more commonly associated with a terrorist campaign.

Fortunately violent animal rights actions are currently at a very low level in the UK. This is due in part to effective policing and judicial responses to the (few) perpetrators of this type of action. There has also been a change to an increasing acceptance of animal research in the UK over the last decade, due in part to improved communications around this issue by the research and industry sectors.

There might be lessons for the police and judicial systems in other countries currently being tested by animal rights extremism to be drawn from the UK experience, and some of them are listed here.