Defra to rethink mandatory CCTV in UK abattoirs

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Compulsory CCTV in UK abattoirs could be back on the cards, after the government this week signalled it was open to reconsidering its stance on the issue.

It had previously rejected a mandatory rollout, but following an exposé by Animal Aid this week - which showed animals being abused in secret footage obtained at the Bowood abattoir in Yorkshire - Defra farming minister George Eustice said it was weighing up the pros and cons afresh.

“The last time the government looked at the issue, which was in 2012, we concluded that mandatory CCTV was not the right way to go,” he told a House of Commons debate on 3 February. “However, I have always been clear that we keep the issue under review and that I have an open mind.”

In looking at the case for compulsory CCTV, it would refer to a report by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, published this week, Eustice added.

During the debate, MPs argued mandatory CCTV was needed urgently to stop incidents like those at Bowood. “The current regulatory system fails animals badly, and I believe it is time to rectify that,” said Tory MP Henry Smith.

But some also warned the cost of installing and monitoring CCTV could be prohibitive for smaller abattoirs. According to the FAWC report, costs could range from £3,000 to £10,000 per abattoir, though others have estimated them to be higher.

According to a FSA survey, about 43% of red meat slaughterhouses currently have CCTV, and 55% of poultry slaughterhouses.

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