LONDON – The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the Dept. for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (Defra) proposal that closed-circuit television will be mandatory in every slaughterhouse in England. Now, the group is urging Wales to do the same.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced Aug. 11 that under new animal welfare plans CCTV will be mandatory in all areas in England where live animals are present, and Official Veterinarians (OVs) will have unrestricted access to the footage. OVs can request and view CCTV footage if there is cause to believe animal abuses have occurred.

The Welsh government recently released the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework (AHWF) Implementation Plan for 2017/18 that outlines priorities of the Wales AHWF Group, which is expected to provide guidance on the need and possible implementation of CCTV in Welsh slaughterhouses.

Sarah Carr, BVA Welsh Branch president, applauded the Welsh government’s commitment to improve animal health and welfare standards.

“We were disappointed last year that the Safeguarding Animal Welfare at Slaughter Task and Finish Group’s report concluded that there was not a “sufficient basis” for making CCTV in Welsh abattoirs mandatory,” Carr said in a statement. “With plans now underway to introduce mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses in England, with full and unrestricted access to footage for Official Veterinarians, we are urging the Welsh Government to implement concurrent measures in Wales.”

The plans for mandatory CCTV in England call for footage to be accessible to Official Veterinarians with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Official Veterinarians monitor and enforce animal welfare standards in slaughterhouses. Any establishment found in violation of animal welfare standards can face a welfare enforcement notice, suspension or revocation of staff licenses or a criminal investigation.

Veterinary groups in Great Britain lobbied for mandatory CCTV in 2016 after Hillside Animal Sanctuary released undercover video footage taken at Simply Halal, an abattoir in Banham, Norfolk. The footage depicted animals being mishandled and abused. The 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.

In addition to mandatory CCTV, Defra said the agency plans to raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernizing statutory animal welfare codes to reflect improvements in medicines, technology and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes covering chickens bred for meat will be updated first.

“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and the actions I am setting out today will reinforce our status as a global leader,” Gove said in a statement. “As we prepare to leave the EU, these measures provide a further demonstration to consumers around the world that our food is produced to the very highest standards.”