VIDEO: DEFRA looks at CCTV in abattoirs

The government is considering using CCTV to ensure that abattoirs abide by animal welfare rules.

Ministers and senior civil servants are looking at the technology following a number of high profile welfare breaches.

Farm minister Jim Paice believes installing CCTV in slaughterhouses could help make sure abattoirs met the necessary welfare standards.

“We’re looking at it,” Mr Paice told Farmers Weekly. “It’s clearly got a lot of attraction but it would be a massive investment.”

The latest high profile welfare breach saw workers abusing pigs due to be slaughtered at an abattoir run by Cheale Meats in Essex.

Activists from campaign group Animal Aid released secret footage showing workers punching pigs and stubbing cigarettes out on their faces.

The film was recorded on a number of secretly installed cameras over a period of four days at the abattoir.

Three injured pigs were forced to crawl through the race and into the stun pen. They were pushed, dragged by their ears and kicked along.

DEFRA refused to prosecute, even though the video showed pigs being abused and manhandled in breach of animal welfare legislation.

The department said it would be inappropriate to rely on evidence provided by a third party that it could not obtain under its own statutory powers.

Instead, the Food Standards Agency revoked the licence of one of the slaughtermen identified in the footage.

Another slaughterman featured in the footage was in possession of a provisional licence, which has now expired and will not be renewed.

In addition, the agency increased the level of monitoring carried out by its staff at the plant to ensure procedures were being followed correctly.

The business subsequently sacked both slaughtermen identified in the filming from their employment.

Mr Paice said he was not prepared to tolerate the inhumane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.

“We are working with the Food Standards Agency – who are of course the people who go into the abattoirs – to find the best way forward,” he said.

“CCTV may be part of the answer.”