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Time to install CCTV cameras in animal research labs
Posted 17 May 2013
In the light of yet more evidence of incompetence, cruelty and regulatory breakdown suffered by animals in UK laboratories, Animal Aid is stepping up its campaign to have CCTV installed in establishments that conduct animal experiments.
In April, the BUAV published an undercover investigation based on months of secret filming at Imperial College, London. With technicians often playing loud music as rats and mice were experimented on, some of the staff exhibited shocking levels of incompetence and ignorance about the experiments to which they had been assigned.
The BUAV exposé comes two months after the publication of Animal Aid’s own landmark report, which charts the true nature and scale of the cruelty inherent in the breeding and killing every year of millions of genetically modified mice. Science Corrupted, describes widespread flouting of welfare laws, staff inadequacies leading to poor animal care, faulty equipment being used for killing animals and the drawn-out deaths by gassing of thousands of ‘surplus’ animals.
It is clear from such evidence that the current regulatory system is deficient. The Home Office employs just 21 full-time inspectors to assess and police around 3.8 million experiments per year. Whereas negligent and wantonly cruel behaviour would never be acted out in front of Home Office Inspectors, CCTV cameras can help deter such behaviour, or capture evidence of it where it does occur.
Animal Aid has had several recent discussions with top officials at the Home Office (HO) concerning the use of CCTV in research labs. In May last year, together with the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), we submitted to the head of the HO unit that authorises and regulates experiments a dossier called An Outline Proposal for the Introduction of CCTV in Animal Research Establishments. Follow-up discussions continue.
An appropriate starting point for the trial introduction of cameras, we believe, would be Imperial College, London, given BUAV’s Licensed to Kill exposé.
Please contact Home Office Minister, Lord Taylor, and urge him to begin the installation of CCTV cameras in animal research laboratories. He should start with Imperial College, London and go on to premises identified by the Home Office itself as being of higher risk, either because of the nature of the research carried out, or because they have been guilty of a licence infringement.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office), House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW