Delivering effective ethical review: the AWERB as a 'forum for discussion'

The aim of this booklet is to provide guidance, ideas and examples to help Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies (AWERBs) in the UK fulfil this specific task, and to help ensure that ethical issues are acknowledged and discussed whenever they arise. The content will be useful to those interested in animal research policy and governance in other countries as well.

Animal research in the UK is regulated by the Home Office via the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB), required at each research, breeding and supplying establishment, is an important part of this governance system. The AWERB has a number of tasks. One of these is to ‘provide a forum for discussion and development of ethical advice to the establishment licence holder on all matters related to animal welfare, care and use at their establishment’.

The material presented here is based on the results of an event, jointly organised by the RSPCA, Institute of Animal Technology, Laboratory Animal Science Association and Laboratory Animal Veterinary Association and held in London in May 2016. This event included a workshop session on ‘The AWERB as a forum for discussion’, where AWERB members from industry and academia shared their experiences of implementing this task. Additional material has been taken from the Guiding Principles on Good Practice for AWERBs, the RSPCA Lay Members’ Resource Book, and from wider literature.

A list of practical suggestions is provided in summary tables of Action Points.

The booklet can be read here. A pdf version may be downloaded by clicking on the spanner icon.

Authors: Dr. Penny Hawkins and Dr. Pru Hobson-West

Published in January 2017.

The RSPCA and LASA have also produced guidance on developing induction materials for AWERB members. This guidance is available online and sets out some key generic resources and a self-assessment checklist for AWERB members, to help establishments develop their own induction packs. It is intended to complement in-house training and provide members with the knowledge and motivation to be effective participants in the AWERB, whether they are animal technologists, scientists, lay or independent members, Named Persons or AWERB chairs.

This page was updated on 19 July 2023

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