Legislation to make CCTV cameras mandatory in slaughterhouses in England to safeguard animal welfare has been laid in Parliament by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The legislation will come into effect from May 2018, once it passes through Parliament, at which point businesses will have six months to comply.
A consultation on CCTV in slaughterhouses was launched last summer.
A summary of responses published in November showed that of almost 4,000 respondents, more than 99 percent were supportive of the plans.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: "We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and want to cement our status as a global leader by continuing to raise the bar.
"Introducing compulsory CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses is a further demonstration to consumers around the world that as we leave the EU, we continue to produce our food to the very highest standards.
"The previous reaction to the consultation highlighted the strength of feeling among the public that all animals should be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of life and be subject to the highest possible welfare standards."
Animal Aid has compiled undercover slaughterhouse footage
Under the proposals, Official Veterinarians [OVs] from the Food Standards Agency [FSA] will be given unfettered access to the last 90 days of footage.
It is believed this will help them to 'monitor and enforce animal welfare standards'.
If OVs find welfare breaches, a slaughterhouse can be given a welfare enforcement notice, have its staff’s licences suspended or revoked, or be referred for a criminal investigation.
Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: "I welcome this new legislation being introduced. It will help businesses to improve animal welfare and hygiene standards across the industry.
"We look forward to working with the industry as CCTV plans are implemented, and to seeing public confidence rise as a result.
"Businesses will have six months to comply with this legislation once it has passed through Parliament. The penalty for failing to comply will be an enforcement notice to the business or prosecution."
UK group Animal Aid added: " This will go a long way in protecting animals from some of the deliberate and sadistic abuse brought to light time and again by our investigations.
"A heartfelt thank you to our wonderful supporters for the many actions you have taken to demonstrate your dedicated and unwavering support to date.
"We welcome this positive news on a long-fought campaign. But we will continue to encourage people to go vegan, since this is the best way to protect farmed animals."