Extremist threat wide

August 6, 2004

Experts on animal rights extremism warned this week that any staff member of a university could be at risk of attack, regardless of their specialism, as activists home in on secondary and tertiary targets.

Last Friday, the Home Office announced a series of "tough" measures to deal with extremists who threaten or physically attack those involved in animal research.

But leading defenders of animal research warned this week that the battle against extremists at Oxford University, which has become the focus of attention because it is building a new £18 million animal research laboratory, was far from over.

Simon Festing, director of public dialogue at the Association of Medical Research Charities, said: "However much money you spend, I don't think you can stop the problems, especially at a university. Why would they want to get into an animal lab only? That isn't how they work. They can target absolutely anything."

Barry Keverne, chair of the Royal Society's committee on animals in research, said: "It is quite clear that the animal liberationists are focusing on weak targets: people who have nothing to do with research."

Professor Keverne's committee has found that cash-strapped universities are spending an average of £175,000 a year on security measures to defend employees against animal extremism. He added that at some universities the bills were stretching into the millions.

Professor Keverne expressed disappointment that last week's announcement from the Home Office, which included police powers to ban protestors from the vicinity of a person's home for three months, did not mention universities. He said: "Industry can raise millions of pounds just to target this, but we simply can't do that."

Last week Bristol University became one of the first universities to take a stand and place a statement about its research using animals on its website.

Oxford University is the only other institution to have gone public in this way, although others are believed to be considering it.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns