In October 2011, in order to enhance the capability and effectiveness in tackling animal cruelty, the Hong Kong Police initiated the "Animal Watch Scheme" to formalise the working relationship between the Police, SPCA and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
The scheme provides increased awareness, cooperation, liaison, exchange of information and intelligence, training and sharing of experience, and coordination amongst all involved with a view to further improving efficiency.
In addition, the Society for Abandoned Animals (SAA), the Hong Kong Veterinary Association (HKVA) and the China (Hong Kong) Veterinary Association (CHKVA) have also been invited to join the Scheme.
Although the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislations comes under the Food and Health Bureau with the AFCD being the primary enforcement agency, the police is also empowered to enforce this legislation under the law.
For many years, members of the public have requested the SPCA to investigate suspected animal cruelty allegations, entrusting the Inspectorate to distinguish whether an offence has been committed and, if so, for cases to be referred to the Police or the AFCD for further investigation, or to initiate prosecution procedure. Inter-agency collaboration has thus became common, especially in more complicated and serious cases as well as in those that require prosecution.
Members of the public may make a choice of reporting suspected animal cruelty cases either to the Police, the AFCD or the SPCA to conduct initial investigations. Under the scheme, Police will carry out initial investigation if a report is made directly to Police. The Police may call either the SPCA Inspectorate or the AFCD Officers to the scene to assist.
The benefit of such a collaboration is that each agency combines their unique technical expertise, experience and resources to build a case in a systematic and scientific manner.