LONDON – Veterinary groups in Great Britain urged the federal government to make close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras mandatory in meat processing plants and to create legislation that would give official veterinarians immediate access to the footage to investigate animal abuse claims.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) made the call following the April release of undercover video footage taken at Simply Halal, an abattoir in Banham, Norfolk. The footage, taken by Hillside Animal Sanctuary in February and March, allegedly depicts animals being mishandled and abused. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched an investigation into the facility to discover how the abuses occurred despite the presence of an FSA veterinarian on the premises and operational CCTV in the slaughterhouse.

BVA and VPHA said the purpose of having CCTV in slaughterhouses is undermined if official veterinarians (OVs) are denied access to CCTV footage. FSA data show 90 percent of slaughterhouses in the UK have CCTV.

“It is unacceptable that there are slaughterhouses that are not willing to share CCTV footage with official veterinarians,” BVA President Sean Wensley said in a statement. “We are lobbying for CCTV to be mandatory in all slaughterhouses and for legislation to ensure that footage is readily available to vets.

“We need to foster a culture of compassion in slaughterhouses, coupled with robust and effective enforcement, so that the animals we farm for food have both a good life and a humane death.”

Under current law, OVs can request and view footage if there is cause to believe animal abuses have occurred. Footage taken at Simply Halal allegedly was not saved. Additionally, figures from the FSA reported in The Times suggest that more than 30 meat processing firms have refused to share CCTV footage with the OVs in their plants working under the authority of the FSA.