RSPCA Assured has announced a return to 100% in-person assessments from 17 May 2021. These will be mandatory for all members. However, the assurance scheme said visits will continue to be ‘contactless’ with the safety and welfare of both members and their animals remaining a priority.
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.
All of the dates are in line with the current UK and devolved administration planning and RSPCA Assured 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 17 May.
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’
Commenting on the return to in-person visits 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.”
Almost three-quarters of assessments carried out by RSPCA Assured in 2020 were in-person, despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 and Avian Influenza (AI).
Out of a total of 3,535 assessments last year, 72% (2,541) of these were conducted in person, 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 17 April for six weeks, when COVID-restrictions were at their tightest. But, from 1 June 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.
Between 17 April – when desktop assessments were first rolled out – and 31 December, 1,796 assessments were still achieved in person. These were all contactless and carried out according to the Government’s strict social-distancing measures, as well as RSPCA Assured’s own biosecurity protocols.