As the threat to pig businesses from vegan and animal welfare activists grows, producers are being urged to sign up to the ‘Safecall’ service, which was set up to provide an extra layer of protection.
The Confidential Reporting System (CRS), which is free to use, was established in 2014 after one particularly high-profile public ‘exposé’ by animal rights campaigners that ended in tragedy for the farmer.
However, the service, which is managed by the National Pig Association (NPA) and funded by AHDB Pork, has not been widely used of late.
The confidential hotline is operated by a specialist company, which can provide translators if necessary. Staff are trained to identify and discard any vexatious calls.
Producers who sign up to the scheme are encouraged to put posters up around the farm stating that: “Whether you are an EMPLOYEE or a VISITOR, by entering this site you accept that everything you see is confidential, except that if you observe any aspect of animal welfare that causes you concern you must report it immediately to the unit owner or a senior member of staff or to the confidential reporting service Safecall.”
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the association was currently reviewing how it responds to the growing threat of vegan activist incursions.
“One of the defences we are keen to promote is the Safecall system. It’s free to all pig levy payers and ensures that any animal welfare issues can be dealt with quickly and on farm, rather than in public,” she said.
“It provides employees with a confidential service if raising an issue internally is difficult.
“It also protects employers against former employees making malicious allegations about poor welfare and against vegan and animal rights activists by contractually obliging them to report any concerns immediately, rather than in the media at a later date.
“If you have the poster up and former staff or visitors, including uninvited ones, don’t flag any issues they see, the farmer is protected if they try to raise them publicly at a later date.”
If you wish to join the scheme or have any questions about how it works, email NPA@npanet.org.uk