CCTV should be made compulsory in Welsh slaughterhouses according to the National Assembly’s Petitions Committee.
The Committee has published a report on a petition submitted by Animal Aid, which collected 1,066 signatures. This stated:
“We call on the National Assembly to urge the Welsh Government to introduce mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses to help vets with better regulation and monitoring, to provide footage for training and retraining, to deter some of the animal welfare abuses filmed by Animal Aid, and to provide evidence for prosecutions should they be necessary.”
Following detailed scrutiny of the issue, the Committee disagreed with the Welsh Government’s position that compulsory CCTV should be considered only if a purely voluntary approach fell short.
According to the Welsh Government, there are 24 slaughterhouses in Wales, but 14 do not currently have CCTV installed. The Welsh Government has made funding for the installation of CCTV equipment available, but the Committee believes that making such arrangements mandatory would be significantly more effective in ensuring that animal welfare standards are upheld in all premises.
Moves have already taken place towards making CCTV mandatory in England and Scotland.
In Wales, undercover filming carried out during 2019 showed multiple examples of poor treatment of animals at a slaughterhouse near Wrexham. The footage included sheep dragged along by their throats, pulled by their ears or legs, and even evidence of workers slaughtering animals without adequately stunning them first. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investigating.
Separately, the Committee received another petition calling for “Adequate funding to protect the welfare of farm animals in Welsh slaughterhouses”.
The Welsh Government provides the FSA with funding to support them to deliver animal welfare inspections and enforcement.
However, evidence received by the Committee showed that the Welsh Government only allocated £32,000 of funding in 2019/20, and as little as £7,400 in one previous year (2016/17).
The Committee has recommended that the Welsh Government provide a sufficient level of funding to carry out effective animal welfare checks at slaughterhouses in Wales, including for the monitoring and enforcement of CCTV footage.
“It is of utmost importance that animals are treated with respect and dignity at all times, including at the end of their lives”, said Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee.
“The Committee does not believe that the purely voluntary approach currently being taken forward by the Welsh Government is sufficient to ensure that correct welfare standards will be upheld in all cases.
“One way we can ensure standards are not left to chance is by making CCTV compulsory in critical areas of slaughterhouses, including where animals are kept and where they are killed.
“We consider that it is time that the Welsh Government acted to help reassure everybody in Wales that the suffering of animals is minimised at these extremely sensitive moments.
“It is also imperative that adequate funding is provided by the Welsh Government to reinforce these standards and to take appropriate action when required.”
The Committee makes three recommendations in its report:
- The Welsh Government makes the installation and maintenance of CCTV monitoring systems mandatory in all slaughterhouses in Wales;
- The Welsh Government ensures that the Food Standards Agency, or another appropriate body, is provided with a sufficient level of resource to monitor and enforce the new CCTV monitoring system in slaughterhouses in Wales; and,
- The Welsh Government ensures that the Food Standards Agency is provided with a sufficient level of resource to undertake its animal welfare delivery activity in Wales, with consideration given to the FSA’s estimates of the cost of delivering official controls.
The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.