The government has announced that CCTV will be mandatory in all English slaughterhouses from spring next year.
CTTV will be required in all areas where live animals are present, and official veterinarians (OVs) will have unrestricted access to footage, which must be kept for 90 days. Slaughterhouses will have six months to implement the new requirements from the spring start date, which will be confirmed in the near future.
The news follows a Defra consultation on the issue.
“We applaud the government for this welcome advance for equine welfare, as accountability and transparency are essential if the slaughterhouse is to remain an option for horse owners, most especially those who cannot afford the high price of euthanasia,” said World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers.
“Without CCTV in all areas of the slaughterhouse where live animals are present, horses at abattoirs are greater risk of being ‘invisible’ and horse owners needed greater confidence in the process.”
The charity has campaigned for mandatory CCTV in all areas of a slaughterhouse since 2013.
World Horse Welfare believes CCTV can aid the OV in monitoring welfare and also serve as an “excellent training resource for slaughterhouses to help make all processes as welfare-friendly as possible”.
Last year almost three-quarters of more than 900 horse owners who responded to a survey conducted by the charity said they would not have confidence that horse welfare would be protected throughout the slaughter process in an abattoir.
While more than 90% of the respondents would not use a slaughterhouse to end their horses’ lives, almost half of them said they would consider it an acceptable option if measures were in place such as CCTV which is constantly in operation and available to the relevant authorities for monitoring at any time.
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The government’s consultation response said: ‘World Horse Welfare noted that market pressure for CCTV was not present in horse slaughter but there was a need to increase confidence in horse owners that slaughter was a humane end of life choice.’
“We are especially grateful to everyone who has helped achieve this change, either by signing our petition, writing to your MP or sharing the campaign,” added a charity spokesman.
“We have been delighted with the wide support we and other organisations have received on this issue, and we look forward to seeing the details of the proposals.”