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Posted 25 July 2014
Animal Aid has launched a powerful addition to our campaign for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses: a new film hosted on a dedicated website – SlaughterhouseCCTV.org.uk – that directs visitors to a Number 10 Petition.
Celebrity vet and author, Emma Milne, appears in the film. She insists that CCTV is essential to help protect animals from deliberate and illegal cruelty, and urges compassionate members of the public to sign the petition. If it attracts 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. It already has 19,000 signatures.
Between 2009 and 2011, Animal Aid placed fly-on-the-wall cameras inside nine randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses and found shocking breaches of animal welfare laws in eight of them. The films revealed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped on, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. They showed animals being improperly stunned and coming round again, or suffering painful electrocution. And, disgracefully, they showed animals deliberately and illegally being beaten and punched, and burned with cigarettes. None of the illegal acts filmed were detected by the on-site vets or the slaughterhouse operators who have ultimate responsibility for animal welfare.
That is the reason why Animal Aid – with support from many other animal protection groups in the UK and overseas – is calling for mandatory CCTV to be installed in all slaughterhouses, with footage to be independently monitored.
The campaign has brought together animal campaigners, vets, supermarkets, the Food Standards Agency and UNISON – the union that represents some of the meat hygiene inspectors and vets who work inside slaughterhouses. Having seen Animal Aid’s undercover footage, all the major supermarkets now insist that their slaughterhouse suppliers have CCTV installed.
The campaign also has powerful cross-party support inside Westminster, with more than 145 MPs having signed Early Day Motions (EDMs) in support of this campaign, and the latest EDM – tabled recently by Grahame Morris MP – already attracting strong support.
The campaign is clearly enormously popular with the public. In a YouGov poll* commissioned by Animal Aid in June 2014, 76 per cent of British adults support CCTV being made mandatory in all UK slaughterhouses (with independent monitoring of the footage). When taking into consideration only those who expressed a view, that figure rose to 87 per cent.
Says Animal Aid’s Head of Campaigns Kate Fowler:
‘CCTV is a practical, proportionate measure to help deter the worst abuses that take place inside British slaughterhouses. It is obvious that vets cannot see what is going on throughout the slaughterhouse, and that some workers take advantage of this. CCTV can allow vets access to specific or randomly selected sections of footage and, where appropriate, they can then take action, knowing there is evidence to back them up. One thing is all too clear: slaughterhouses are not being properly regulated, and animals are suffering terrible abuse as a result. A civilised society simply would not allow animals to be beaten, burnt, kicked and dragged to their deaths, and the government must now take steps to remedy this and ensure proper scrutiny of slaughterhouses.’
CCTV has a number of other benefits, aside from protecting animals from abuse. It can deter or detect gross hygiene breaches; protect staff from bullying; and deter acts that could lead to injuries and deaths (such as the accidental shooting of a worker at Sandyford in 2011; the death of a man crushed at the same slaughterhouse, also in 2011; a man crushed to death by machinery at F Drury & Son in 2011; and a man airlifted to hospital after being injured at Dawn Meats, Ulverston in 2013). It could also prevent the theft of firearms from slaughterhouses (including the recent thefts from Diplocks in Sussex and Broxburn in West Lothian).
* Respondents to the YouGov poll gave their answers after being shown the following statement: ‘All the leading supermarkets now insist that their slaughterhouse suppliers install CCTV cameras to help prevent cruelty to animals. This means about half the animals killed in the UK are filmed on CCTV and half are not. Those who oppose installing cameras object because of the cost of installing them and say workers don't want to be filmed. Those who support the installation say that the protective benefits to both animals and workers outweigh these concerns.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2406 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd - 3rd June 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).