The call to action follows a recent exposé of the English wool industry. Undercover footage showed shearers punching sheep in the face, stamping and standing on their heads and necks, beating and jabbing them in the face with sharp electric clippers, and slamming them against the floor.
According to animal rights charity PETA, whose Asia outlet was responsible for the investigation, the video footage 'resembles a horror film'.
Now the charity and its followers are calling on Environment Secretary Lord Gardiner of Kimble - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity - to extend new legislation which makes CCTV recording in all English abattoirs mandatory, and make the presence of CCTV cameras mandatory for all UK shearing operations, too.
"This is a life-or-death situation for the animals, and the cameras may very well stop some of the most egregious abuse that they endure," said a PETA spokesperson. "PETA Asia's eyewitness documented rampant cruelty and unimaginable suffering on all farms visited – every single one. This abuse should not be allowed to continue out of view of the law.
"The British public have always insisted on transparency when it comes to the way animals are treated. If the wool industry has nothing to hide – as it continues to insist, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – it should support this initiative, which would protect both animals and workers from dangerous practices."
PETA's Undercover footage of the English wool industry
'Shocked and saddened'
British Wool issued a statement in response to the footage PETA references above at the time it was released, saying: "We are shocked and saddened by the behaviour of the (two) contractors filmed secretly...
"It is not within our remit to police the shearing industry: this responsibility lies with the Government and the RSPCA.
"We would like to point out that the vast majority of the thousands of shearers in the UK operate to the highest standards of animal welfare, which is an integral part of all our shearing courses."
Speaking about animal welfare and sheep shearing, a Defra spokesperson told Plant Based News that as set out in the Sheep Welfare Code, shearers should be experienced, competent and have received adequate training in shearing techniques, with suitably competent staff supervising inexperienced shearers.
They added: "The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and are going further, by raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years.
"APHA [Animal and Plant Health Agency] takes potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and investigates all allegations. Where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action will always be taken."
This story was updated on September 12 to include Defra's quote.