Scotland’s animal rights campaigners have won the support of a cross-party group of MSPs, bringing them nearer their goal of getting mandatory CCTV installed in all areas of Scotland’s slaughterhouses.
A deputation, led by Kay Hamilton, the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, met MSPs for a briefing at the Scottish Parliament on the proposal to protect the welfare of farm animals.
Last month the Scottish Government announced in its Programme for Government 2017-2018 that it intended consulting on compulsory CCTV in the country’s 35 abattoirs.
Holyrood currently recommends installing CCTV as best practice. However, this is on a voluntary basis and not required by legislation.
The voluntary code also omitted specifying how clear footage should be, where cameras are situated and who has the right to view the footage.
Kay Hamilton, who was married to Angus, the 15th Duke of Hamilton, premier peer of Scotland who died in 2010, has said that as well as “access all areas” CCTV, the footage should be independently monitored by an organisation such as the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“Kate Fowler of Animal Aid was inspirational. She had faced the cruelties in slaughterhouses and ensured that mandatory CCTV is now in slaughterhouses in England - sadly Scotland is being left way behind , to our shame.
“I totally agree with the way the British Veterinary Association has summed up the situation by saying ‘if we farm animals for food, then surely at the end of their lives we are bound to give them the most humane end possible.”
So far over 10,000 people have signed a petition from OneKind, Animal Aid and campaigners, backing the call. It will be presented to Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the rural economy, later this year.
Harry Huyton, director of animal protection charity OneKind, said the move would be inexpensive.
“It would be a cheap, simple and effective safeguard, helping to protect animals and workers.
“We’re delighted to see so many MSPs from across the political spectrum supporting this campaign, and I hope many more members of the public will sign our petition before we hand it into the Minister later this year.”
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP, who hosted the Holyrood briefing, said: “A third of the animal welfare incidents in slaughterhouses were caused by poor conditions during transport to abattoirs, with many animals having suffered broken bones, broken bones and other injuries.
“Vets can’t be present around the clock and it’s obvious that appalling cruelty isn’t going to occur when it’s known that CCTV is in operation.
“It’s essential that CCTV cameras are situated at sites of stunning and killing and not only in packing areas.
“Scotland prides itself on high quality produce and I doubt consumers would want to support businesses where animals have not been treated with care and respect.”
MSPs who voiced their support included Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, Patrick Harvie, MSP, Scottish Greens co-convenor, and Maurice Corry, Scottish Conservative MSP.
Last week a spokesman for the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said CCTV footage was not an ideal solution.
“No matter how good the CCTV image may be, it can never be compared with real time observation by a vet.
“In addition, there are questions concerning workers’ rights, especially as staff in other industries are not subjected to CCTV surveillance.”