THE number of animal cruelty convictions in Essex has doubled.

Figures released by the RSPCA show there were 144 convictions last year compared to 71 the year before. Nationally, the figure dropped from 1,552 to 1,371.

Paul Stilgoe, RSPCA superintendent, said: “It is really difficult to say what drives people to act in such utterly pointless cruel ways, and neglect their animals to such an extent.

“In some cases, people just don’t knowwhat an animal needs or financial circumstances can lead to difficulties, while others find organised cruelty, or deliberate violence towards an animal acceptable.

“We will always try to work with people and re-educate where possible, but there will always be some people who think it is alright to beat, kick, kill, starve or neglect an animal and times when the only way to stop them is to prosecute.”

The figures are detailed in the charity’s Prosecutions Annual Report.

It also revealed the RSPCA received a record 1.3million calls to its national cruelty line last year.

To report incidents of animal cruelty, call 0300 1234 999.