Support the introduction of slaughterhouse CCTV in Scotland – deadline 20 June.
Posted on the 11th May 2018
The Scottish government recently launched a consultation on making CCTV mandatory for all slaughterhouses across Scotland. While slaughter can never be cruelty-free, these plans will make a huge difference in protecting animals from the illegal violence our investigations have revealed time and again.
The government is inviting interested parties to submit their responses to the consultation, which Animal Aid has done, and which you can do, too!
Anyone may respond to this consultation, you do not need to be resident in Scotland.
About the government’s proposals
The plans set out by the government are encouraging, but there is one key area where we would like to see improvement – provision for a proper system of independent monitoring of the footage. We are also asking respondents to support the rest of the proposals to ensure that the industry does not get them watered down. We know it will try.
About the consultation
The consultation itself is simple and brief. There are just nine questions relating to the subject, and many – including ‘Should there be mandatory CCTV recording in all approved slaughterhouses in areas where live animals are present?’ – have Yes / No answers.
How you can help
Since duplicate responses may not count individually, we haven’t produced text you can simply send, but we have provided some information that you can use to guide your responses.
1. Should there be CCTV recording in all areas of approved slaughterhouses in Scotland where live animals are present?
Although 68% of slaughterhouses in Scotland have cameras in some part of the slaughterhouse, cameras may not be installed throughout, and they may not be turned on, pointing in the right direction or functioning
FBOs can – and do – refuse to hand over the footage to regulators when required, and vets can request the footage only when they have suspicions.
Only a law can remedy these shortcomings.
Investigations in England between 2009 and 2017 showed that 93% of slaughterhouses filmed by covert CCTV were breaking animal welfare laws, and often animals were deliberately attacked or abused.
These breaches were detected by the presence of cameras, which were placed and monitored by animal protection organisations.
Cameras can be sited in places where vets cannot be, and they can remain in place all day. Moreover, the footage can be stored and used to train, retrain, settle disputes and provide evidence for prosecutions.
Installation of cameras is essential for better deterring and detecting breaches of animal welfare laws, but so is independent monitoring of the footage.
2. Have we identified the main animal welfare gains from CCTV in slaughterhouses?
3. Is it reasonable to require FBOs to retain CCTV footage for 90 days.
It is imperative that footage is retained for 90 days, and it costs the Food Business Operator very little to do so.
Vets and others must be able to look back over a period of time to determine whether a questionable action brought to their attention was a one-off or part of a systemic and ongoing problem.
4. Should there be unrestricted access to CCTV footage, both real time and stored, for reasons of ensuring animal welfare by officers authorised by the Scottish Ministers?
Ensuring officials are able to watch in real time means problems could be picked up as soon as they occur.
And recorded CCTV footage can be used for future training and correctional purposes. It can be used to investigate tip-offs and determine whether a situation was a one-off event or indicative of an ongoing and / or widespread problem. Stored footage provides evidence, should it be required, for criminal prosecutions.
To ensure the footage is monitored independently, the Scottish Government should set up an external body to oversee this aspect of regulation. [More information can be found in the 2016 report CCTV Monitoring in Slaughterhouses authored by Prof. Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University] This would help safeguard animal welfare in cases where vets were implicated in not acting when they should. For example, ABP Sturminster continued to slaughter cows using a stun pen that was not set up legally. And the layout at Bowood Yorkshire Lamb was so poor that unnecessary suffering was inevitable. A vet should have recognised these issues and prevented operations until they were rectified.
A truly independent body that operates outside of the often-charged slaughterhouse atmosphere would be able to spot-check footage, and act without fear of reprisals on the ground.
5. What do you think the cost of introducing compulsory CCTV in slaughterhouses in Scotland would be to (a) individual slaughterhouses and (b) to the Scottish slaughter industry as a whole?
The cost to individual slaughterhouses is modest. Animal Aid found that a fully-installed four-camera system with remote viewing and night vision would cost in the region of £700-£900. An eight-camera system would cost around £2,500. These are one-off costs, and the annual maintenance costs are negligible.
The many scandals emanating from the slaughter industry –from welfare abuses and deaths of workers to the horsemeat contamination, bullying of staff and widespread campylobacter –have led to reputational damage across the whole industry. The cost of not installing cameras would be significant, especially when England has already taken this step.
6. Do you consider that the costs of introducing compulsory CCTV in Scottish slaughterhouses are reasonable and proportionate for individual businesses irrespective of size?
7. Are there any other economic benefits or costs not mentioned in the consultation document?
8. Should CCTV be installed in all approved slaughterhouses, regardless of size?
Animal Aid’s investigations revealed that workers at slaughterhouses of all sizes break welfare laws when they think they are not being watched.
I agree with the Consultation document – exempting smaller businesses from any compulsory CCTV recording would undermine the overall effectiveness of a requirement for compulsory CCTV.
9. Should the Scottish Government help smaller businesses to comply with a requirement for compulsory CCTV?
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