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Gove confirms compulsory CCTV in abattoirs next year

13th Nov 2017 / By Alistair Driver

CCTV recording will become mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England next year, Defra Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.

CCTVLegislation will be introduced in the New Year, coming into force in the spring. All slaughterhouses will be required to comply following an adjustment period of up to six months.

Defra said it would be taking the plans forward following an extremely positive reaction from the industry, welfare groups and the public.

In August, Mr Gove launched a consultation on the plans to deliver a manifesto commitment for CCTV to be required in every slaughterhouse in England in all areas where live animals are present, with unrestricted access to footage for Official Veterinarians – reassuring consumers that high welfare standards are being effectively enforced.

A summary of responses published on Sunday shows that of almost 4,000 respondents, more than 99% were supportive of the plans.

Mr Gove said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and want to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar.

“The reaction to this consultation highlights the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life and be subject to the highest possible welfare standards.

“These strong measures also provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.

“Having carefully considered all of the responses, the Government agrees with the overwhelming proportion of respondents that were in favour of mandatory CCTV to protect animal welfare in slaughterhouses."

The proposals will also give the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Official Veterinarians (OVs) unfettered access to the last 90 days of footage to help them monitor and enforce animal welfare standards.

Mr Gove added: “The FSA has strict processes in place for the approval of slaughterhouses, and specially trained vets carry out checks to make sure the welfare of animals is protected throughout their time in the slaughterhouse. If breaches are found, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.”

NPA view 

The NPA is broadly supportive of the plan. Chief Executive Zoe Davies pointed out that CCTV has been in place in most pig slaughterhouses for some time and has shown to benefit plants for training staff and improving security on site.

She stressed however, that it must not be seen as the sole tool for use when dealing with any animal welfare complaint as it can only paint a partial picture of the true situation.

Zoe had previously stated in the NPA’s response to the FAWC consultation on CCTV in abattoirs in 2014, that whilst CCTV can help to provide information to assist with site management, particularly in areas that are not always manned or in use, it should not be used as a replacement for trained staff in situ, or to make assumptions about general standards within the plant.   

British Veterinary Association senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The mandatory installation of CCTV is a vital tool to ensure high standards of animal health, welfare and food safety in all slaughterhouses.

“Official Veterinarians carry out an essential role in slaughterhouses by independently assessing and reporting breaches of animal welfare, and unrestricted access to CCTV footage will allow them to carry out this role even more effectively."

Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said the decision was a 'welcome step towards ensuring that animal welfare and hygiene standards are met across the meat industry'.