Fining dog walkers who can’t prove that they can pick up after their dog is a “topsy turvy” idea and doesn’t make any sense, a borough councillor has said.
During the council’s Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting (Thursday, 28 September) Paul Pace, chief officer for environment, said it is “incredibly hard” to catch people who allow their dog to foul in public areas.
He added that another local authority’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to promote good dog control and practises allows enforcement officers to stop dog walkers to check that they have the means of picking up after their dog.
“Failure to actually provide the officer with that element of information to satisfy that request may lead to the issue of a fixed penalty notice,” he said.
“So we have that opportunity if we wish to go down that line.”
Councillor Charles Royden (Lib Dems, Brickhill) said: “There used to be an offence which people could get locked up for ‘going equipped’. So you could lock someone up with a screwdriver or something.
“But there was never one of ‘going ill-equipped, and doesn’t that sound a bit crazy that you’re going to lock somebody up whether you’ve got no knowledge of them committing any kind of crime, but because they can’t prove that they haven’t committed a crime you’re going to give them [a fine]?
“To me, that sounds upside down when people can wander around with all kinds of knives and things and the police can’t search them, we’re going to be doing this to people with dogs. I just think this is topsy-turvy, it doesn’t make any sense to me.
“But I know I might be a lone voice, there might be other people who disagree,” he said.
Borough residents are able to report dog fouling by either calling the council on 01234 718060 or by going online (bedford.gov.uk).
“A lot of these people that may be allowing their dogs to foul are walking their dogs in a routine,” Mr Pace said.
“Often the same time every morning and potentially the same area, often in similar sort of clothing, things like that.
“[This] makes our life considerably easier if we know a particular person is allowing their dog to foul the verges or the parks and open spaces if we know that it is between nine o’clock and nine-thirty or seven to seven-thirty in the morning.
“We can [then] target our resources to actually go out there and deal with that particular person,” he said.
“We’re not asking the members of the public to stand up in court because we will effectively issue a fixed penalty notice.
“But we have to witness it, so if they give us the best opportunity with the best information we will go out there and do that [enforcement],” he said.
Currently, the fixed penalty notice for a breach of a PSPO is £75 and the maximum fine if a successful prosecution is brought is £1,000.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter