LEGISLATION is to be brought forward this year requiring Scotland's abattoirs to record on CCTV all areas where live animals are present.

ScotGov said the move was intended to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare in abattoirs, by helping those responsible for enforcing welfare legislation, and had been backed by the 'vast majority' of respondents to the recent consultation on the proposal.

Announcing the news ahead of a Parliamentary Statement on animal welfare, Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said: “More than eight out of ten slaughterhouses in Scotland have already installed CCTV coverage in their premises voluntarily, and over 95% of all animals slaughtered in Scotland are covered by some form of CCTV. However, the standards of that coverage can differ from location to location.

“This government is committed to ensuring the highest standards of welfare for all animals. And we are pleased that so many respondents to our consultation backed our proposals to make this compulsory. It was important also to consider the financial implications of such a move for industry, and whether other options might be available to improve animal welfare.

“Following a positive response to the consultation, I’m delighted to announce that I will introduce legislation to the Scottish Parliament in 2019, which will help to improve further the already high standards being followed by the livestock sector in Scotland.”

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers commented: "Currently, over 95% of animals processed in Scotland go through meat plants which use CCTV, and have done so for several years. This runs alongside the industry’s open and transparent approach with the veterinary authorities and follows the strict welfare controls which are monitored by Food Standards Scotland. 

“In this context, we already have an agreed protocol with FFS to enable appropriately trained veterinary officers (VOs) to have direct access to in-plant CCTV systems. This is an important point as all CCTV footage needs to be viewed and understood by trained observers who are fully conversant with in-plant procedures and operating standards. As we have seen with VAR in football, video images are open to many interpretations when viewed by untrained and ill-informed observers," cautioned SAMW.  

“We therefore welcome this Scottish Government’s announcement. However, it must be noted that some existing CCTV systems may require to be upgraded or completely replaced. We would therefore appreciate confirmation from the Scottish Government Minister for the Environment that she will provide grant support to help the industry meet any additional cost burdens, as her Ministerial counterparts in Wales have already done.”