UK - A new report published by a team of independent experts headed by Sheffield Hallam University Professor Ian Rotherham, has found that the cost of independent monitoring of CCTV inside England's slaughterhouses is likely to cost between £150,000 and £370,000 a year.
The report's publication comes against a background of undercover investigations of English slaughterhouses, by campaign group Animal Aid.
The new report - CCTV Monitoring in Slaughterhouses - sets out how an independent system of monitoring might be conducted, what it would cost and how it might be funded.
Crucially, the report's authors - who are also drawn from Cormack Economics and HEC Associates - endorse the current regulatory ethos that says the cost of regulation should fall to industry and consumers, not to government and taxpayers.
This endorsement will make welcome reading for Defra, the government department charged with the regulatory responsibility for the sector, and which faces substantial budget cuts. Defra Minister George Eustice has already stated that the cost of installing cameras in slaughterhouses is ‘relatively modest'.
According to the new Rotherham report: "The clear conclusion is that the current system of welfare monitoring is failing and that compulsory use of CCTV with independent monitoring is the only robust solution."
His report recommends that a formulating body (governmental, academic, animal welfare or other) establishes a monitoring committee to run the scheme, which needs to be ‘transparent, effective, and for credibility, to be independent from interference by both government and industry'. Its members would be drawn from a range of stakeholders, and would appoint staff who would be trained and supported in their viewing of footage.
It recommends slaughterhouse anonymity to protect the workers and to ensure that there is no bias caused by employees knowing they are watching footage from a slaughterhouse with a poor welfare record. It also recommends close liaison with the Food Standards Agency, the body currently charged with regulating welfare at slaughter.
The report's authors produce a sliding scale of staff costs that are dependent upon how much footage is monitored in a year from each of around 260 slaughterhouses in England. They calculate that, if six hours of footage is to be checked, the staff costs would be in the region of £45,900, while if 36 hours of footage is assessed, costs would rise to £283,500.
The report also examines options for how these costs might be met, and concludes that ‘on balance, we advocate the introduction of a levy per carcass'. It describes the cost per unit as ‘minimal'.
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