CCTV is no longer a luxury, but an absolute necessity, in many environments in the UK, from public to commercial and private premises. Abattoirs will now join the list of sites for which CCTV is obligatory after the government unveiled new regulations about slaughterhouses in England.
Another significant change is the access that vets from the Food Standards Agency will have to footage. These professionals can now request film of any areas in which livestock are held, under the new rules, which will be phased in over the next 12 months.
The development is likely to bring video management systems into play for an ever-increasing share of businesses. These platforms, such as the EyeLynx Sharpview Video Management System, can offer configurable monitoring and an events manager function that centralises footage from several cameras, providing features such as instant replay.
So why is CCTV coverage in abattoirs vital? Fundamentally, because it will enhance the monitoring of animal welfare across the country. Moreover, the incentive for slaughterhouses to comply with the new regulations is a big one – a criminal investigation could be launched should welfare standards not be met, and staff licences could be lost.
The changes mark a step up from the current codes of practice and animal welfare laws, and soon Wales could follow England in making CCTV mandatory, as their government also considers bringing in the rule.
On a wider scale, CCTV in abattoirs will go a long way to positioning the UK as what Environment Secretary Michael Gove described as a “global leader on animal welfare”. Modernised regulations in abattoirs could also act as a beacon for general improvements to animal welfare across the board. Domestic pets and farm animals also benefit from future updates to the animal welfare code.
Mr Gove went on to suggest that the UK’s impending departure from the jurisdiction of EU regulations makes the new regulations all the more timely: “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. 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.”
Meanwhile, Heather Hancock, chairwoman at the FSA, heralded the new measures, especially with the relatively low voluntary CCTV adoption in abattoirs. She said: “We look forward to the introduction of a comprehensive requirement for using, accessing and retaining footage from CCTV in abattoirs. We see CCTV as an invaluable management tool for business owners to help with compliance with official controls and to improve animal welfare standards across the industry.”
The chorus of praise was joined by British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Gudrun Ravetz, who described abattoir CCTV as “essential”. He explained: “We are particularly pleased to see a commitment to official veterinarians having unrestricted access to footage, which the BVA has been calling for. Vets’ independence and unique qualifications help ensure that the UK will continue to have the highest standards of animal health, welfare and food safety.”
CCTV monitoring will include recording all activities, and it is expected that its presence will be effective as an additional security net, acting as a deterrent against trespassers and thieves.