Animal Aid's campaign for mandatory CCTV and independent monitoring in all UK slaughterhouses. Helping vets to see what happens in the stunning and slaughter areas when they cannot be present.

Animal Aid’s slaughterhouse investigation

The campaign to reveal what takes place behind closed doors in UK slaughterhouses began in January 2009 when we planted fly-on-the-wall cameras in JV Richards, a Cornish slaughterhouse. This was quickly followed by investigations at AC Hopkins in Somerset and Pickstock in Derbyshire. Just one of the three – Pickstock – was not breaching welfare laws, but even then some cows were shot in the head more than once to stun them. At the others, we filmed animals going to the knife without adequate stunning, animals coming round again, pigs being kicked in the face, and a ewe being stunned while her lamb suckled her.

What we filmed was so shocking we knew we had to keep investigating.

Next, we filmed at Tom Lang in Devon, a Soil Association-approved slaughterhouse.

Conditions there were so bad that the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) immediately suspended three workers and began building a case for a prosecution. At this slaughterhouse, we filmed pigs being kicked in the face, sheep being picked up and thrown, and the heads of sheep being cut off before the statutory time had elapsed after stunning – and while they were, in all probability, still alive.

The fifth slaughterhouse was another Soil Association-accredited slaughterhouse, this time in Dorset. Our footage from ABP revealed more abuses and legal breaches. Once again, the MHS was forced to take action and began building a case for the prosecution of at least one worker.

The sixth slaughterhouse was JH Lamberts in Norfolk. The footage revealed still more breaches of the welfare laws, including sheep being dragged by their heads, forcibly thrown into the stun room and picked up by their fleeces and ears. Pigs and sheep suffered improper stunning.

At the seventh slaughterhouse, A&G Barbers in Essex, we filmed scenes of extreme and deliberately-inflicted suffering, including use of electric tongs on pigs’ snouts, tails and in their open mouths. One worker and the slaughterhouse operator faced prosecution, and – since losing its contract with a German meat producer as a direct consequence of our investigation – A&G Barber has been forced to close.

At the eighth – F Drury & Son in Wiltshire – we filmed sheep being decapitated whilst still alive, calves slipping and falling repeatedly to the floor for three hours, and goats leaping into the killing area to try to evade the stunning tongs.

The ninth and final slaughterhouse was Cheale Meats in Essex. There we filmed deliberate violence, including pigs being burnt with cigarettes, one animal being punched in the head, pigs being goaded in the face, regular kicks and blows, improper stunning and seriously injured pigs forced to drag themselves to slaughter.

CCTV could have deterred some of these breaches. It could help vets discover them. It could provide evidence for prosecutions. Please sign the petition calling for mandatory CCTV for slaughterhouses with independent viewing of the footage.