RSPCA Assured has announced a return to 100% in-person assessments from May 17, in line with the easing of Government COVID restrictions.
These assessments will be mandatory for all members. However, the charity is keen to stress they will continue to be ‘contactless’ with the safety and welfare of both members and their animals remaining a priority.
All of the dates are in line with the current UK and devolved administration planning and RSPCA Assured said it will continue monitoring the roadmap as it progresses.
RSPCA farm livestock officers, who carry out monitoring of RSPCA Assured members between assessments, will also fully resume in-person visits from May 17.
Even when all legal limits on social contact are lifted, both RSPCA Assured assessors and RSPCA farm livestock officers will continue to carry out all visits using the scheme’s ‘contactless assessment protocol’.
A new graphic on RSPCA Assured’s website illustrates the steps that will be taken to achieve the return to in-person assessments, and members have been written to informing them of the process.
Clive Brazier, CEO RSPCA Assured, said: “Desktop assessments and monitoring visits have been a great temporary solution for some of our members during this difficult period, to safeguard the welfare of both them and their animals.
“But there is nothing more important to assure ourselves, the public, and our members of the welfare of their farm animals, than seeing them face to face. It’s what RSPCA Assured is all about. Our assessors and the RSPCA’s farm livestock officers can’t wait to get back on all farms, doing what they love best.”
Out of a total of 3,535 RSPCA Assured assessments last year, 72% (2,541) were conducted in person,despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 and Avian Influenza (AI), with the remaining 994 carried out via live video streaming.
In addition, 93% (867) of monitoring visits – carried out on RSPCA Assured farms by RSPCA farm livestock officers – last year were in person.
Desktop assessments – carried out via live video streaming – were temporarily made compulsory by RSPCA Assured from April 17 for six weeks, when Covid-restrictions were at their tightest. But, from June 1 onwards, in-person assessments resumed on a case by case basis (with the mutual consent of both member and assessor), with live video assessments remaining a temporary option.