It’s time to bring transparency to Scotland’s Slaughterhouses. That's why we're calling for mandatory CCTV monitoring in all Scottish abattoirs, covering all the key areas, that is accessible by independent experts.
There are currently 18 million cattle, 6.83 million sheep, 333,000 pigs and a poultry flock of 14.11 million in Scotland (Scottish Agricultural Census 2016) as well as 35 operational abattoirs.
Who knows what’s happening behind the closed doors of the 35 abattoirs operating in Scotland? All we know is that there are serious problems. Investigations by Animal Aid show shocking brutality in English abattoirs, and there is no reason to assume the situation is any better in Scotland. In fact, data released by Food Standards Scotland in April 2017 showed that there were 706 breaches of animal welfare standards recorded with 176 breaches taking place inside abattoirs between 1 May 2015 – 31 January 2017.
- Animals abused by workers – Animals suffered at the hands of slaughterhouse operators. One worker was seen kicking a sheep, and another was seen pushing and dragging a pig by its tail.
- Injured animals – Hundreds of animals were found bruised, injured, wounded or with broken bones. One cow was discovered with major internal and external legions.
- Animals slaughtered while heavily pregnant – 130 animals were killed in the later stages of pregnancy. A number of lambs were also born in abattoirs.
- Animals repeatedly stunned before killed – There were 45 incidents where multiple or inadequate stunning took place or where procedures didn’t work. One cow was stunned seven times due to incorrect positioning of the bolt gun.
How could CCTV help in Scotland’s slaughterhouses?
When CCTV is properly monitored by an independent body it can play a critical role in detecting and deterring animal abuse and welfare issues in abattoirs. Without it, we have no idea what’s happening behind the closed doors of abattoirs. CCTV can also be used to –
- Train workers and support best practice.
- Direct monitors to abuse that may go unreported due to workers not wanting to speak up against other colleagues.
- Investigate procedures that lead to accidents and injuries.
- Deter potential theft of equipment including dangerous captive bolt guns.
- Protect workers and hygiene inspectors who are bullied or intimidated in the workplace.
Some people suggest that hidden platforms would be sufficient as they would allow slaughterhouse operators to monitor their workers without them knowing they’re being watched. However, this is a lot less effective as CCTV. Operators would not be able to watch all areas at the same time and there would be no recorded footage to support any abuse that is witnessed.
So why do people object to mandatory CCTV?
One of the main objections to CCTV is the cost involved. In a survey of Scottish abattoirs, installation costs varied between £4,607 and £6,000 and maintenance costs ranged from £340 to £2,500 per annum. However, these costs are not huge and should be viewed as benefiting the reputation of Scotland’s food and farming industry.
Another objection that’s been raised is that CCTV would violate worker’s rights. However, most public places including city centres and public transport have CCTV fitted. It’s also installed in many workplaces for security purposes.
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What is the current law in Scotland?
The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland currently recommends the installation of CCTV as best practice. However, it is on a voluntary basis and not required by legislation. Elsewhere in the UK, CCTV is also not required by law and is done on a voluntary basis. France recently led the way in the EU, with the French Assembly voting in January 2017 for the compulsory installation of CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses in France from 2018.
There is a voluntary code for the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses, but as well as being voluntary it misses out crucial detail: how clear the footage should be, where cameras should be placed, who has the right to see the footage, length of time footage should be kept, and who has the authority to delete the footage. Concerns have even been raised that veterinary staff have been refused access to CCTV footage in their own abattoirs. That’s why we’re also calling for minimum technical standards which would ensure quality is adequate for review and, if required, used for evidential purposes.
Why this campaign?
In 2016 a group of SNP members succeeded in changing SNP policy in support of CCTV in abattoirs. OneKind is working on this petition with these activists, and Animal Aid, who have led a campaign for CCTV in abattoirs in England for many years. Our plan is to work together to build the pressure on the SNP-led Scottish Government to take action and implement their own policy, leading the way for a similar change in the rest of the UK.
The Scottish Government has the power to introduce mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.