A Cross-Party Group of a Dozen MPs Urges Home Office to Abolish Forced Swim Test

A Cross-Party Group of a Dozen MPs Urges Home Office to Abolish Forced Swim Test

London – As the Home Office reviews its policy on the forced swim test (FST), today, a dozen MPs – including George Eustice, Caroline Lucas, and Rachael Maskell – have sent an open letter to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office Lord Sharpe of Epsom OBE urging him to prohibit the use of the widely discredited and abysmally cruel test in the UK.

“The Home Office must stop licensing use of the FST in the UK and must withdraw all current licences that authorise its use,” writes the group in the letter. “Continuing to authorise its use undermines the integrity of scientific output and public confidence in the regulatory framework. Please end it now.”

The letter (available here) notes that in the FST, experimenters induce panic in small, vulnerable animals by forcing them into inescapable cylinders of water, where they fear they may drown. The animals attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater, desperate to find a means of escape. The test is conducted under the erroneous assumption that it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans.

The Home Office is currently reviewing its policy on the FST in the UK. Advice made public earlier this year from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – suggested that many licences to conduct the test had been granted without the proper scrutiny and concluded that the test has significant limitations. PETA is calling for all licences to be revoked and the FST to be ended in the UK.

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recently announced that the FST has a significant adverse impact on animals. The council said that the test must not be used in new projects for modelling human depression or anxiety and its treatment, that it must not be used for other uses without compelling justification, and that those currently using the FST must conduct a review of their project within three months.

“Abolishing the forced swim test could spare thousands of animals a terrifying ordeal and encourage scientists to use innovative, human-relevant research,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “PETA is calling on the Home Office to act immediately to end the use of this outrageously crude and cruel test.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk or follow the group on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, or Instagram.


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]