The campaign to reveal what takes place behind closed doors in British slaughterhouses began in January 2009 when we planted fly-on-the-wall cameras inside JV Richards, a Cornish slaughterhouse. This was quickly followed by investigations at AC Hopkins in Somerset and Pickstock in Derbyshire. We have now secretly filmed inside ten randomly-chosen UK slaughterhouses and found welfare breaches in nine of them.
Animal Aid filmed sheep, pigs and calves being killed over five days in January 2009. Despite it being illegal, we filmed many pigs being kicked in the head and face.
Animal Aid filmed pigs, sheep and suckling lambs being slaughtered over three days in April 2009. The slaughterman we filmed showed a callous disregard for the welfare of animals for which we believe he should have been prosecuted.
Animal Aid filmed cows being slaughtered over three days in June 2009. Of all the ten slaughterhouses now filmed by Animal Aid, Pickstock was the only one that we did not film breaking animal welfare laws. That is not to say, however, that there was no suffering.
Animal Aid filmed pigs and sheep being killed at this Soil Association-approved slaughterhouse over two days in October and November 2009. Sheep were picked up by their fleeces and thrown into the stun pen.
Animal Aid filmed cows being killed over four days in January and February 2010.
In the very first moments of the film it was clear that the stun box was not set up legally.
Animal Aid filmed sheep and pigs being killed over two days in March 2010. We filmed a great deal of violence inflicted on the sheep at this slaughterhouse: animals were dragged by their heads into the stun pen or were picked up by their fleeces and ears and forcibly thrown.
Animal Aid filmed pigs being killed over three days in April 2010. This was one of the most violent slaughterhouses we filmed with one worker launching regular vicious and sadistic attacks on the animals.
Animal Aid filmed sheep, calves and goats being killed over two days in September 2010. As with, Tom Lang Ltd, many of the sheep slaughtered at F Drury and Son had their necks broken and their heads cut off immediately after their throats were cut, despite the law stating that the animals must be left for at least 20 seconds to ensure they are first dead.
Animal Aid filmed pigs being killed over four days in March and April 2011. At least two different workers stubbed their cigarettes out on the faces of pigs, while another punched a pig hard in the face for fun.
Animal Aid filmed sheep being killed at this non-stun slaughterhouse for three days in December 2014. There were many problems at this slaughterhouse including the appalling lay-out which guaranteed additional suffering.
Workers Punished, Slaughterhouses Closed
As a result of our work, many slaughterers had their licences permanently revoked, two men were jailed for cruelty to animals at Cheale Meats after they beat and burned pigs, and two slaughterhouses – A&G Barber and Bowood Yorkshire Lamb – were forced to close down.
Many more workers should have been brought to court but, when the coalition government came to power in 2010, it dropped all pending charges without a credible explanation. Animal Aid was forced to campaign to have the relevant government department stripped of its prosecution function, and this was achieved in 2011. Sadly, by then, many slaughterhouse workers had escaped justice.
Supermarkets adopt CCTV
Our campaign for CCTV to be installed in slaughterhouses has been accepted by the supermarkets. The ten largest – Morrisons, Waitrose, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, Asda, Marks & Spencer and Iceland – along with wholesalers Booker, have now agreed to deal only with slaughterhouses that have independently monitored CCTV cameras installed. The RSPCA insists that all Freedom Food-approved slaughterhouses have CCTV. However, none of the supermarkets have robust and independent monitoring, and this is why we are campaigning for a law that would enforce this.
The public demands CCTV
In June 2014, a YouGov poll found that 76 per cent of those asked said the government should make CCTV mandatory for slaughterhouses. That figure rose to 87 per cent when it just included those who expressed a clear view.
Politicians demand CCTV
More than 160 current MPs have signalled their support for the campaign for mandatory CCTV by signing Early Day Motions or agreeing to be photographed with our campaign banners. And more than half of all Welsh Assembly Members have pledged their support via a Statement of Opinion tabled by Rebecca Evans.
In the media
Our investigations have been featured all over the print and broadcast media, and helped to educate the public about the cruelties of slaughter. These are just a few of the national media headlines:
Stopping the suffering
Our investigations have shown that the slaughter of animals is not a humane business, and countless people have adopted an animal-free diet as a result of our work. Those who wish to find out more can order a free Guide to Going Vegan.