POLICE 'FINISHED OFF' ANIMALS LEFT TO DIE BY SLAUGHTERMENCumbria: News and Star
A NATIONAL police report has revealed how Cumbrian officers had to be called in with guns to "finish off" animals which slaughtermen had failed to properly kill during the county's foot and mouth crisis.
The report, which outlines lessons to be learned from the police experience of the outbreak, claimed there were "instances of great concern" about the quality of work slaughtermen were doing.
It told how Cumbria police marksmen were called out on five occasions to shoot animals which had not been killed by slaughtermen and were left injured. Others escaped and had to be killed because they posed a danger to public safety.
The report - printed on the eve of the anniversary of the foot and mouth outbreak - says: "The sheer demand for those able to discharge a firearm sometimes resulted in the quality of applicants not being rigorously checked. There were some instances of misuse, where animals undoubtedly suffered."
Superintendent Brian Horn, who led Cumbria police's £165,000 foot and mouth operation, said he shared the concern that some of the work carried out by slaughtermen was "inappropriate."
"Some of the slaughtering that was taking place did seem to be less than humane," he added.
"The weapons being used were sometimes not powerful enough and did not kill the animal on the first attempt.
"Some of the slaughtering was done in an unprofessional way - animals awaiting slaughter were kept close to the ones which were being killed and they panicked.
"There were also cases of movement being spotted in what was thought to be pile of slaughtered sheep."
The report voiced further concern that the policy of paying slaughtermen for each animal they destroyed led to a "lack of care".
It recommended that when planning for any future outbreak, authorities should consider tighter controls for the management of contracted slaughtermen and rigorous application procedures.
It cited the need for "substantial training" of Defra officials who were sometimes "ignorant of the law and procedures involved" in gaining entry to land.