Vets disappointed with recommendations for Welsh slaughterhouse CCTV

19 December 2016

Vets today expressed disappointment at a report instructed by the Welsh Government that recommends CCTV should not be mandatory in slaughterhouses in Wales. 

The Safeguarding Animal Welfare at Slaughter Task and Finish Group’s report, which outlines the findings of the Group’s investigation into the welfare of animals in slaughterhouses and the potential role of CCTV, concluded that there was not a “sufficient basis” for making CCTV in Welsh abattoirs mandatory.

However, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) – who represent the Official Veterinarians (OVs) who oversee animal welfare in slaughterhouses – believe mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses and vets’ unrestricted access to CCTV footage are vital in order to safeguard animal welfare, assist with enforcement and instil customer confidence.

Dr Neil Paton, BVA Welsh Branch President, said:
“We are disappointed that the Task and Finish Group has not taken on board the concerns of vets working in slaughterhouses and not followed the logic of their own arguments about the benefits of CCTV highlighted in the report. While we know that CCTV is not the answer to all welfare concerns, it is recognised as an important tool by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee and encourages the highest standards of animal welfare and good stockmanship. We also need to ensure that where CCTV is installed, vets can have access to the footage. If there isn’t CCTV footage, or vets cannot access the footage, how can the number of reported incidents in abattoirs be verified?” 

The report, "The Need for and Possible Implementation of a Workable System of CCTV in All Slaughterhouses in Wales", details that only eight large abattoirs of the total 26 abattoirs in Wales have CCTV.  Although the bulk of animals in Wales are slaughtered in these eight abattoirs, lack of CCTV in other abattoirs means 3.4% of poultry are slaughtered without CCTV safeguards, accounting for over 2 million birds, and 10.5% of sheep, pigs and cattle are slaughtered in abattoirs without CCTV – nearly 385,000 animals. The potential risk of welfare harm to these animals is increased by this lack of CCTV. 

Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association said:
“What vets who work in slaughterhouses, and all those who care about animal welfare, are striving for is a culture of compassion in abattoirs. CCTV is an important tool in encouraging and implementing such a culture. The report’s recommendations encourage abattoirs to install and use CCTV effectively for training purposes, but, together with the VPHA, we would like to re-emphasise our calls for CCTV to be mandatory in all slaughterhouses in the UK and for legislation to ensure that footage is readily available to vets. We recognise that the cost of installing CCTV may be a burden for some very small abattoirs, but it is important that the animals we farm for food have both a good life and a humane death and CCTV has a key role to play in ensuring these requirements are met.” 

The report also outlined a number of other recommendations, which are welcomed by BVA, including the request for grants to be made available to assist small sites invest in the equipment and an additional focus on the improvement of welfare of animals during transport to slaughter.

BVA Media Office