A confidential reporting service has been launched for the English pig industry to help maintain high animal welfare standards.

The National Pig Association (NPA) said it had introduced the service to protect its members from malicious allegations by animal rights activists, who periodically attempt to gain unauthorised entry to pig buildings.

The NPA said the scheme would help demonstrate the industry’s high welfare standards to retailers and consumers.

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The service, called Safecall, obliges everyone employed on, or visiting, a participating pig unit to immediately report any disquiet they may have about any aspect of animal welfare – either directly to a senior member of staff or using a confidential hotline.

NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies said: “The British pig industry is globally renowned for its high animal welfare standards and this new service will help us demonstrate to consumers that our reputation is well deserved.

“Importantly it will help us deal quickly and responsibly with the claims of animal rights activists, who from time to time trespass on livestock farms. In future, if they see anything wrong they will be under a moral and contractual obligation to report it immediately, so that appropriate measures can be taken.”

A specialist provider is operating the service independently and it is free to farm-assured pig keepers.

The scheme will be funded from the statutory pig levy, which is administered by Bpex, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The service guarantees caller confidentiality, and can provide translation services for eastern European workers on British pig farms. It will also filter out vexatious calls.

To sign up to the scheme, or for more details, email npa@npanet.org.uk or call 02476 858 780.