Beef carcasses© Tim Scrivener

Independent monitoring of CCTV footage inside England’s slaughterhouses would likely cost between £150,000 and £370,00 a year, according to research.

The details are included in a new report – CCTV Monitoring in Slaughterhouses (PDF) – carried out by a team of experts at Sheffield Hallam University.

The report’s publication comes against a background of undercover investigations of English slaughterhouses that have uncovered evidence of animals suffering serious abuse, including being deliberately beaten and burned with cigarettes.

See also: CCTV in all slaughterhouses – 100 MPs back campaign

‘Modest cost’

Defra farm minister George Eustice has already stated that the cost of installing cameras in slaughterhouses is “relatively modest”. 

There are about 260 slaughterhouses in England and the cost of installing a four-camera system with remote viewing and night vision in each one would cost in the region of £700-£900.

Depending on the scale of the operation, annual costs of up to £370,000 would be required to cover employment and training of a workforce to monitor the CCTV, plus any accommodation and data-logging support.

The report recommends that a formulating body (governmental, academic, animal welfare or other) establishes a monitoring committee to run the scheme, which needs to be “transparent, effective and, for credibility, to be independent from interference by both government and industry”.

Its members would be drawn from a range of stakeholders and would appoint staff who would be trained and supported in their viewing of footage.

Pilot scheme

The report recommends that a pilot scheme is established to test feasibility before wider roll-out across the industry. 

More than 112,000 people signed a petition last year on the government’s No 10 website calling for mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses. At least 145 MPs support the campaign.

Animal welfare charity Animal Aid, which financed the independent report, said the current system of welfare monitoring in CCTV slaughterhouses was failing and a voluntary welfare system would not be sufficient.

Isobel Hutchinson, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, said: “The case has been decisively made that the current regulatory system is failing animals, and that CCTV – if monitored properly – could deter and detect crimes against vulnerable animals.

“With the publication of this report, the suggestion that this wayward industry can’t afford CCTV monitoring has been comprehensively debunked.

“The government must make cameras compulsory and ensure they are independently monitored. Inaction is no longer an option.”

The report does not consider the additional costs of independent CCTV monitoring in the estimated 50 slaughterhouses in Scotland and Wales.