The government has announced new plans for CCTV to be made mandatory across all slaughterhouses in England. The measure is hoped to improve animal welfare standards.
Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader. As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.”
The CCTV will be required in every slaughterhouse where live animals are present, with unrestricted access to the footage being given to the Food Standard Agency’s Official Veterinarians (OVs).
Compassion in World Farming’s Director of Campaigns, Emma Slawinski, explained that she was “thrilled” at this new piece of legislation. “Millions of animals each year are at risk of suffering behind the closed doors of slaughterhouses. Mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses will provide the crucial transparency to ensure that legal protections are not being flouted,” she said.
Animal welfare groups have been calling for cameras in slaughterhouses for a long time, with long-term vegetarian Paul McCartney famously stating that “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
Isobel Hutchinson, director of animal rights campaign group Animal Aid, said: “After many years of campaigning for mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in slaughterhouses, we are greatly encouraged by this news. But although this development is a huge step forward, we urge the public to remember that even when the law is followed to the letter, slaughter is a brutal and pitiless business that can never be cruelty-free.”
This new development will only be implemented in England, there are no CCTV cameras in the slaughterhouses of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, with no plans to introduce them currently.