Animal Research Statistics for Northern Ireland 2014

While England, Scotland and Wales (collectively “Great Britain”*) are regulated by the UK Home Office and produce one set of statistics together, Northern Ireland is regulated by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, which produces its own statistics.

According to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, in 2014, there were 19,857 procedures on 18,889 animals*. Most of these were on mice (12,946), but there were also a significant number of pigs (690), sheep (781), cattle (1,661), birds (1,376), and rats (605). In 2014 there were 72 cats (down 17%), and 156 dogs used in research (up 113%) – mainly for translational/applied studies (though 57 dogs were used for regulatory purposes). No primates were used in either 2013 or 2014.

*animals are only counted the first time they are involved in research, so an animal which is used in different projects in both 2013 and 2014 is only included in the 2013 “number of animals”, but will be included in the “number of procedures” for both 2013 and 2014.

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Compared with the previous year, there were 3 fewer animals used, a relatively insignificant drop from 2013. Rats and fish both fell as a proportion of the total, but the number of procedures on birds rose.  Also, given the change from reporting the number of procedures in started studies, to reporting the number of procedures in completed studies, comparisons to previous years should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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Other things to note from the statistical release:

  • Creation and breeding of genetically altered animals not used in experimental procedures accounted for 15% of all procedures, much lower than the 60%+ in the rest of the UK. Most procedures (49%) were for basic research, followed by Applied/Translational Studies (30%) and Regulatory (4%). [Table1]
  • 69% of research went on in Universities and medical schools, 25% was in non-profit-making organisations and 6% were in commercial organisations. [Table 11]
  • For the first time the Northern Ireland statistics include retrospective reporting of suffering. Rather than just submitting licence proposals to the DHSSPSNI that include estimated levels of suffering, the researchers now have to report on what was actually seen (using a variety of measures). Unfortunately the statistics put these in two separate tables (Table 3 and 8). So we have combined them to get severity for all procedures in 2014. We can see most experiments are sub threshold (4%; less than the introduction of a hypodermic needle) ormild (62%), with remainder as moderate (28%), severe (6%) or non-recovery (0.3%; the animal never awakes from anaesthesia). [Tables 3 and 8]

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It should be noted that despite Northern Ireland using over 100 times fewer animals than the rest of the UK, is still holds itself to the same high quality of statistical reporting.

Lastly, by adding the statistics for Great Britain (3,867,439) to those of Northern Ireland (19,857), can see that 3,887,296 procedures on animals were conducted in the United Kingdom in 2014. Nonetheless, when referring to the UK stats throughout most of the website, we will actually be referring to Great Britain.

We are hoping to see 2014 reports for Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Poland soon.

Speaking of Research

*The statistics for Great Britain tend to be referred to as the “UK Stats”. While this is not technically correct, it is perhaps not too surprising, given that Great Britain accounts for over 99.5% of the UK’s animal experiments.

See the full Northern Ireland statistics here: https://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dhssps/asp-statistics-of-scientific-procedures-on-living-animals-ni-2014.pdf

Read last year’s release here:

https://speakingofresearch.com/2014/11/25/animal-research-statistics-for-northern-ireland-2013/

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