‘Animals are being abused in slaughterhouses with CCTV cameras but no action is taken’

Animals are being abused in slaughterhouses in front of CCTV cameras but there’s still no action being taken.

Only one in 300 complaints about animal welfare in UK farms led to a prosecution over the last four years, with half of the accused holdings not even inspected.

A report by Animal Equality and the Animal Law Foundation also said that fewer than three in 100 of the UK’s estimated 291,000 farms had an annual inspection by a public body between 2018 and 2021.

It also found how there is just one inspector in place for every 205 farms in the UK, unveiling the stark reality of law enforcement.

The report gathered data from 65 investigations conducted by a number of animal protection organisations between 2016-2021. Illegality or substandard ­practices were discovered on every facility, which included evidence of pigs having their tails cut off, cows unable to walk or stand, and hens crammed into overcrowded cages. But over 69% of cases resulted in no subsequent formal enforcement action.

The cases include a slaughterhouse where secretly placed cameras beside official CCTV filmed workers using live ducks to knock off feet from dead birds that had become wedged in the shackle line. The Food Standards Agency ­investigated, which put forward two potential charges against the company, but the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

Another investigation found chickens dying on the barn floor where many dead bodies were left to rot. Hidden camera footage also showed workers throwing dead chickens at live birds, and holding chickens upside down and swinging them into each other. The RSPCA reported the farm to the Animal Plant and Health Agency but no action was taken.

The report, titled the Enforcement Problem, says that with more than 180 public bodies responsible, “inconsistencies and confusion have arisen”, and added that “the disjointed nature of regulation and law enforcement has enabled a lack of continuity, ­enforcement and accountability.”

Abigail Penny, Executive Director of Animal Equality UK, said that “non-compliance is endemic” “yet farms are typically receiving little more than a slap on the wrist”.

Edie Bowles, Executive Director of The Animal Law Foundation, added: “The British public wants animal welfare standards to be high and those who break them held to account. Sadly, the data shows that even where laws exist, they seldom get enforced.

“The laws that the public, policy-makers and campaigners work so hard to pass through Parliament need to mean something in practice.”