Calls for compulsory CCTV in all Welsh abattoirs

CCTV should be made compulsory in every abattoir in Wales to ensure that high standards of animal welfare are upheld, according to a group of assembly members.

The National Assembly for Wales, a body which holds the Welsh Government to account, made the recommendation following a petition to the Senedd by Animal Aid.

CCTV has been compulsory in all slaughterhouses in England, in areas where live animals are present, since May 2018. Plans to introduce similar legislation have been announced by the Scottish government.

See also: Small abattoirs: How farmers are fighting for their future

Currently, 14 out of 24 slaughterhouses in Wales do not have cameras installed. Rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths says she is prepared to legislate in the future if the current voluntary approach does not work.

The Welsh government told the assembly’s petitions committee it had allocated £32,000 to the Food Standards Agency to fund animal welfare inspections in the 2019-20 financial year.

But the committee has concluded that the current levels of funding provided to the FSA are “inadequate” to deliver the confidence that welfare standards will be “appropriately scrutinised and upheld in Welsh slaughterhouses”.

The committee said it was “concerned” about recent evidence gathered through undercover filming into the treatment of animals at the time of slaughter.

Covert footage

In September 2019, the animal rights group Animal Aid published allegations and video evidence obtained by covert filming within the Farmers Fresh slaughterhouse in Wrexham.

The animal charity said its investigators took four sets of footage at the slaughterhouse between 26 March and 3 June 2019, which it claimed showed a variety of examples where animals were mistreated.

Animal Aid alleged that the footage showed sheep not being stunned properly, as well as being dragged by their throats and legs, shouted at and hurled down the slaughter conveyor line.

A criminal investigation is under way. The company has not commented on the allegations.

Animal Aid said Farmers Fresh appeared to have cameras in place within its premises. But it argued that its evidence made the case for mandatory CCTV to be introduced across all Welsh slaughterhouses.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Our larger slaughterhouses, which process the majority of animals, already have CCTV.

“We have committed to working with slaughterhouse operators in a supportive relationship and our bespoke grant scheme includes funding for investments to safeguard animal welfare. This includes the installation, upgrade or improvement of CCTV.”