Government responds to independent enquiry into quarantine system

Recommendations put forward following an independent review of the UK's avian quarantine system were today largely accepted.

An independent review of the UK's avian quarantine system by a team chaired by Nigel Dimmock, emeritus professor of virology at Warwick University last October, put forward 32 recommendations of which 29 have been accepted or accepted in principle. Two require further consideration and one has been rejected (see point 4 in “Notes to EditorsĀ for further details).

Ben Bradshaw, minister for animal health and welfare, said: “Professor Dimmock's report was thorough and wide-ranging. It provided us with a challenge, we have now reviewed our procedures and we have presented a response which we think is workable and proportionate.  “I'm sure tightening the system where it is required will reassure the public that our quarantine system would be able to work effectively if imports resume.

Professor Dimmock's review considered, among other aspects, the authorisation of premises for holding birds in quarantine and transit, procedures on importation of birds, the operation of quarantine premises including biosecurity measures and relevant domestic and European legislation.

Based on Professor Dimmock's recommendations, Defra will now:-

-Set up closer veterinary supervision and audit of quarantine by the State Veterinary Service (SVS)

- Create a central SVS IT system of key data linked to quarantine

- Revise guidance for the structure and equipment of quarantine facilities

- Introduce management plans for quarantine operators - Write a bird welfare code for importers and quarantine operators

- Enhance laboratory testing of quarantined birds

The government response is available from the Defra website.

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