About The Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU)
The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) is the act which permits the use of animals in scientific research and provides the restrictions around which animals can be used and for what purpose. At the heart of this act is the requirement to:
only use animals in research when there are no alternatives
use the minimum number of animals needed
only cause the minimum necessary pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to animals
The Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) is part of the Home Office and is responsible for administration and enforcement of ASPA in England, Scotland and Wales. Our activities include:
providing advice on the regulations
operating the licensing system required by ASPA
assuring the compliance of licence holders with ASPA and the terms of their licences
In Northern Ireland, this responsibility is devolved to the Northern Ireland Department of Health, which reports its activities separately.
The purpose of ASRU is ‘to protect animals in science by maintaining compliance with ASPA’.
The government is committed to the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of animals in research - the ‘3Rs’.
The use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease, and in the development of new medicines, treatments and technologies. Underpinning this research is a strong commitment to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system which ensures that animal research is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists and under controls which keep suffering to a minimum. This is achieved through robustly applying the principles of the 3Rs to all research proposals involving the use of animals.
Implementing the 3Rs requires that, in every research proposal:
animals are replaced with non-animal alternatives wherever possible
that the number of animals is reduced to the minimum needed to achieve the results sought
that, for those animals which must be used, procedures are refined as much as possible to minimise their suffering
The government is committed to ensuring that any licence we grant under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 must rigorously and demonstrably apply the 3Rs principles.
In 2010, the coalition government made a commitment to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research and a delivery plan has been published. The plan shows how alternative methods can deliver fast, high-quality research that also boosts economic growth. We have now published a delivery report which describes the progress made on actions set out in the delivery plan.
Publication of non-technical summaries is a legal requirement under ASPA. This mandatory requirement will help put the debate on the use of animals in research and testing on a much better informed footing.
We have published collections of non-technical summaries granted in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.