Vets condemn CCTV recommendation report

British vets have today (19 December) expressed disappointment at a report instructed by the Welsh Government. 

The study suggests that Welsh CCTV should not be made mandatory in slaughterhouses in Wales. The Safeguarding Animal Welfare at Slaughter Task and Finish Group’s report was designed to highlight research into the welfare of animals in slaughterhouses and the possible role of CCTV. The report concluded that there is no “sufficient basis” for making CCTV in Welsh abattoirs mandatory.

Despite this conclusion, 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 that mandatory CCTV in abattoirs and vets’ unrestricted access to footage would protect welfare, assist with enforcement and instil customer confidence.

“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,” said Dr Neil Paton, BVA Welsh branch president.

“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 claimed that only eight large abattoirs of the total 26 in Wales have CCTV. Whilst the bulk of animals in Wales are slaughtered in these eight slaughterhouses, a lack of CCTV in other abattoirs means that 3.4% of poultry are slaughtered without CCTV safeguards, according to BVA. This makes up 2 million birds, with 10.5% of sheep, pigs and cattle are slaughtered in abattoirs without CCTV – making up almost a further 385,000 animals.

“What vets who work in slaughterhouses, and all those who care about animal welfare, are striving for is a culture of compassion in abattoirs,” commented Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association. “CCTV in 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 VPHA, we would like to 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.”

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