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Dog control orders were introduced by s55-67 of the Clean Neighbourhood Act 2005 (CNEA) on 6 April 2006. The CNEA also repealed the Dog ( Fouling of Land) Act 1996 and byelaws made by local authorities, parish councils, town and community councils.
Offences covered by the orders
Local authorities and parish councils (defined as primary and secondary authorities respectively) can use dog control orders to cover the five offences below:
- failing to remove dog faeces;
- not keeping a dog on a lead;
- not putting, and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer;
- permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded;
- taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land.
Local authorities can still make byelaws for offences that fall outside these categories.
Land which can be subject to the orders
Any land which is open to the air or to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access (with or without payment) can be subject to a dog control order (s57 CNEA).
Land is treated as land 'open to the air' if it is open to the air on at least one side eg. railway platform or garage forecourt that remains open to the air at all times.
The Secretary of State has the power to designate types of land to be excluded, such as forestry commission land.
Dog control orders can still apply within areas subject to a gating order under section 2 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
- No offence is committed if a person in charge of a dog acts with the consent of the person who owns or is otherwise in control of the land (eg. working dogs on farms).
- People with disabilities who make use of trained assistance dogs are not subject to a dog control order excluding dogs from specified land.
- Any registered disabled persons (with the exception of a deaf person) is exempt from removing faeces in a dog control area.
- Any person with reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the order.
Making a dog control order, an authority must:
- consult its primary or secondary authorities to avoid potential conflicts;
- demonstrate the order is a necessary and proportionate response to problems caused by the activities of dogs and their owners and those in charge of dogs;
- balance the interests of dog owners and those in charge of dogs against the interests of those affected by the activities of dogs;
- consider how easy a dog control order will be to enforce;
- advertise revocation of an order in local paper;
- erect signage in the location of the designated dog control area summarising the order.
A fixed penalty (FPN) is available for contravening a dog control order. From 6 April 2006 the default amount is £75 but a local authority can set the amount within a specified range. If prosecuted for the offence, a person is liable to a maximum level 3 fine of £1,000.
Who can issue an FPN for contravening a dog control order
Persons who can issued a fixed penalty notice are:
- local authority dog wardens or other authorised local authority officer;
- persons authorised by a secondary authority eg. parish council;
- any person (including their employees) if authorised by local authority or parish council;
- police community support officers (PCSOs) and other persons accredited by chief police officers
When a person witholds or falsifies their details
Section 61 of the CNEA makes it an offence for anyone to withhold or falsify their details when they are given a fixed penalty notice. Schedule 8 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 gives police officers, PCSOs and accredited persons the power to photograph persons away from the police station who have been issued with a penalty notice, thereby greatly reducing the ability of suspects to deny that they were the person in question.
Receipts from fixed penalty notices
Local authorities can retain the receipts from these fixed penalty notices and use them only to help meet the cost of certain specified functions. However, certain local authorities can spend the penalty receipts on any of its functions. In the case of dog controls, specified functions are litter, dog, graffiti and fly-posting. These will be functions such as issuing more notices, provisions of bins, advertising, cleaning, etc.
Enforcement can be complemented by awareness campaigns. Encams ran a campaign in 2002 which was very successful in reducing dog fouling and promoting more responsible behaviour amongst dog owners.
ARTICLE LAST UPDATED: 26/02/2008