Take Action: Make CCTV mandatory in the UK’s equine slaughterhouses
The sad reality is that thousands of horses will end their lives in a UK slaughterhouse this year, but how they are treated there is effectively ‘invisible’ as there is no guarantee that CCTV is being used to help monitor their welfare.
Please join us in calling for the mandatory use of CCTV in all of the UK’s equine slaughterhouses NOW and in the future.
You can take two quick actions to make your voice heard on CCTV:
1) You can sign our petition to Defra
2) You can sign a petition to have the issued debated in Parliament - we need 10,000 signatures for Parliament to respond to our petition, but 100,000 signatures could secure a debate.
Why we need CCTV
While we have clear laws setting out how to protect horse welfare at slaughter, public confidence that these are adhered to has been severely undermined by revelations unearthed from covert CCTV footage in 2013. Unsurprisingly this has also undermined public confidence in choosing slaughter as an option.
We want to ensure that the whole slaughter process is made transparent through the mandatory use of CCTV or other recording technology in all UK equine slaughterhouses which is accessible and checked by the relevant authorities, such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to support their monitoring efforts. CCTV is already recommended by the FSA, British Veterinary Association, UNISON and the Farm Animal Welfare Council among many other organisations.
Almost 50,000 of you asked Defra for mandatory CCTV in 2013, but they said its installation should be voluntary. However in 2015 the uptake of CCTV has remained at around 49% across all UK ‘red meat’ slaughterhouses. This is why we need a mandatory approach.
Installing CCTV in all UK equine slaughterhouses will help reassure the public that every horse going to a slaughterhouse will have his or her welfare monitored throughout.
Join us in calling for mandatory CCTV now by signing our petition to Defra.
There is already significant – if not overwhelming support – for slaughterhouses to install CCTV to help business owners/operators and competent authorities to adhere to welfare laws and ensure an accountable process which is key to public trust. Recently, The Food Standards Agency (FSA) board cited CCTV as one of the top 3 or 4 consumer food concerns. The British Veterinary Association (BVA), the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), most UK retailers and those who work for the FSA who are members of UNISON all support the use of CCTV as an aide to support monitoring of welfare at slaughter.
Lack of confidence in the humaneness of horse slaughter reduces the options for end of life choices. This increases the likelihood that horses in poor health or of low value are passed from pillar to post ultimately to end up in the meat trade anyway, having passed through dealers, markets and countless unnecessary journeys. Horse owners who cannot or will not pay the high costs of veterinary euthanasia and carcass disposal may be reluctant to take their horses to an abattoir because of concerns that it is not humane.
How can CCTV help?
An outcomes based approach means CCTV is one component in a variety of measures to increase accountability.
Just as importantly it should be viewed as a sensible management tool to protect business and help identify training needs and for process review.
What does Defra say?
Defra has taken the view that the use of CCTV should be voluntary, and retailer pressure should be the driver of a slaughterhouse’s decision.
However, this market dynamic does not exist in the UK with horse meat. The meat is exported to other European countries, who are not impacted by British retailer pressure.
Advantages of CCTV or alternative recording technologies:
• Can be installed into spaces where a Competent Authority Representative cannot safely be present - such as in the ‘stun box' or other specific areas.
• Will always be present, unlike Competent Authority Representative
• Cannot be intimidated, unlike Competent Authority Representative
• Produce a record, allowing both good and bad practice to be identified and used in training for slaughterhouse employees.
• Will help counter any malicious accusations against the proprietors or employees of licenced premises and permit proprietors to demonstrate that they treat horses humanely.
• Can be used by the slaughterhouse to monitor adherence to welfare laws and assess competence of their staff
World Horse Welfare encourages slaughterhouses to use CCTV not as a substitute, but as a supplement to enhance their hands-on monitoring activities.
In the meantime pending mandatory introduction of CCTV or alternative monitoring technologies, World Horse Welfare remain committed to informing ourselves and our supporters:
•To increase our charity’s knowledge of equine slaughter practices
•To inform on the most humane method/s based on existing knowledge
•To ensure that all horses in the UK are slaughtered by the most humane method possible
•To achieve consistent, high standards across the industry and to promote transparent practice
And we will continue to work with the Competent Authorities and Food Business Operators to achieve this.
We believe that mandatory monitoring technology will reassure our supporters and horse owners that all horses entering UK abattoirs are slaughtered in compliance with current legislation, whilst ensuring best practice.