Regulatory systems and the 3Rs

Animal research is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the UK. Individual projects, the researchers involved, and the institutions where the work is going on must all be licensed by the Home Office. All facilities are subject to rigorous inspections, both announced and unannounced.

Animal research is also governed by the principles of the 3Rs – refinement, replacement and reduction of animal research – which means that if there is a non-animal replacement method which will provide as accurate results as animal methods then it must be used instead.

All vertebrates (and some invertebrates) are covered by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986, and this has recently been updated to comply with the new EU Directive 63/10 which has been brought in to improve animal welfare standards across the rest of Europe.


Laboratory Animal Law: Legal Control of the Use of Animals in Research (Dolan) looks at the stringent regulations that exist within the UK. This book provides a practical guide to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
- Dolan K., 2007. Laboratory Animal Law: Legal Control of the Use of Animals in Research. Oxford: Blackwell.

Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals (NRC) is the American handbook for laboratory animal scientists on how to care for animals in laboratories. It deals with everything from the size of enclosure necessary for each animal, to how to handle the animals correctly.
- National Research Council, 2011. Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. 8th ed. Washington: National Academies Press.

Online resources

Understanding Animal Research: Regulation (UAR)- provides an explanation of the different levels of regulation that exist to safeguard animal welfare in laboratories across the UK.
- Understanding Animal Research. Regulation. [online] Available at: http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/how/regulation

How is Animal Research Regulated (UAR) is a short leaflet which explains the different levels of regulation of animal research in the UK.
- Understanding Animal Research, 2011. How is animal research regulated? [online] London: UAR. Available at: http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/assets/document/AC139D45-0767-2981-366C782A74D08618/how-is-animal-resear.pdf

The Challenge of Animal Research (NC3Rs) is a leaflet by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animal Research. It outlines some basic facts about the organisation’s efforts to improve 3R integration in labs.
- NC3Rs. The Challenge of Animal Research. [online] Available at: http://www.nc3rs.org.uk/downloaddoc.asp?id=1012

Animal Welfare and the Three Rs (UAR) is a short leaflet which explains the role of the 3Rs – replacement, refinement and reduction of animal research – in regulating and improving animal-based research.
- Understanding Animal Research, 2011. Animal Welfare and the Three Rs: Replacement, Refinement and Reduction [online] London: UAR. Available at: http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/media-library/download/document/16/

Speaking of Research: US research Regulation (SR) provides an explanation of the different levels of regulation for animal research in the United States. This covers the laws at a national and institutional level.
- Speaking of Research, 2012.  Research Regulations. [online] Available at: http://speakingofresearch.com/facts/research-regulation/

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (HMSO) is the government regulations on the use of animals in scientific procedures. It lays out the system of project licenses and other regulations which must be followed. It was amended in 2012 to comply with EU Directive 63/2010.
- Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. c14. [online] London: HMSO. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/14/pdfs/ukpga_19860014_en.pdf

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Last edited: 29 September 2014 14:43