The RSPCA was instrumental in the introduction of the local Ethical Review Process, the forerunner to today's Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) in the UK.

A selection of resource books

We champion the AWERB, and similar committees, as vital adjuncts to regulators, significantly reducing the impact of science on animals and improving animal welfare, scientific quality and public accountability.

RSPCA Animals in Science Department staff are closely involved with the AWERB and sought after as experts on local ethical review both nationally and internationally:

  • providing information and advice to a wide range of stakeholders 
  • contributing to many published documents and guidelines on AWERBs, ethics committees and Animal Welfare Bodies
  • organising AWERB-related conferences and workshops 
  • giving presentations on ethical review and AWERBs at scientific and animal welfare conferences and training courses, in the UK and worldwide, for example in China, Taiwan, South Africa and eastern Europe
  • producing peer reviewed papers, guidelines and other resources designed to develop and facilitate the work of AWERBs and other bodies engaged in ethical review
  • sitting as expert lay, or independent, members on a number of AWERBs 

The RSPCA resource Guiding Principles on Good Practice for Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies, produced jointly with the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA), is widely used in the UK and recommended by the regulator.

We take the lead in organising AWERB-UK meetings for all types of  AWERB member, and we specialise in supporting lay members, organising an annual RSPCA Lay Members' Forum and publishing a Lay Members Resource Book.

We were also a key participant in the European Commission Working Group which developed guidelines for Animal Welfare Bodies and the RSPCA/LASA Guiding Principles document is referenced in European Commission guidelines and those of other countries.

RSPCA International, together with our research animals team, organises workshops to facilitate the formation and operation of ethics committees in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.

View all our reports and resources on ethical review.