(Title Image: Animal Aid)
1. The issue has taken an extraordinarily long time to get this far
The petition was submitted in November 2012. The Committee was told by the then minister responsible, John Griffiths AM (Lab, Newport East), that the issue was being considered by the government – though he cautioned that there would need to be evidence to support introducing a law to make CCTV mandatory.
In 2015, advice from the UK body Farm & Animal Welfare Committee recommended all food businesses should install CCTV in areas where live animals are kept, stunned and killed. The then minister, Rebecca Evans AM (Lab, Gower), said she was “determined to make this happen” in October 2015 and established a task and finish group to investigate it further.
In 2017, the Petitions Committee determined the task and finish group had considered the issue entirely from the industry’s perspective, having recommended that abattoirs decide for themselves whether CCTV was appropriate. This voluntary approach was deemed ineffective.
During 2018 there was various to and fro arguments and stalling. The current Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), told the Committee that most abattoirs had CCTV anyway – though it was later revealed that 14 didn’t.
2. The Welsh Government’s hand is forced
In September 2019, Animal Aid obtained covert footage (still image above) of animal abuse at a slaughterhouse in Wrexham which was taken during spring and summer 2019. The footage included sheep being dragged by their throats and not being properly stunned before slaughter.
A Freedom of Information request later revealed that during 2017-18 there were 76 recorded animal welfare incidents at Welsh abattoirs, with 43 of them seemed serious or critical non-compliance.
Last November, the Minister said she “wouldn’t rule out” introducing a law depending on how a voluntary scheme – funding for which ends this month – works out.
Further FOI requests showed that Welsh Government funding for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to carry out welfare inspections fell far short of the estimated £1million the FSA said they require.
3. Voluntary CCTV isn’t working
The Committee concluded that while the Welsh Government were considering introducing legislation, the voluntary approach wasn’t working because it isn’t supported by a fit-for-purpose inspection regime.
They decided that there was a strong animal welfare justification for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses and also recommended that the Food Standards Agency are provided with the additional resources necessary to enforce CCTV monitoring and welfare inspections.