Call for dog mess database in North Somerset

Cllr John Ley-Morgan

Cllr John Ley-Morgan calls for dog DNA database to sniff out irresponsible owners. - Credit: North Somerset Council

The Government is being urged to set up a nationwide dog DNA database to catch owners who fail to clean up after their pets. 

North Somerset Council is bringing in private contractors who will take a zero tolerance approach to dog mess, with negligent owners risking a £75 fine. 

It will also roll out extra signage but Councillor John Ley-Morgan said local solutions do not go far enough. 

The independent Weston Uphill member told scrutiny panel colleagues on March 4: “This is not a problem that is unique to North Somerset, it is nationwide. 

“The chief people responsible are for those who are not proper dog lovers. They probably take them out under the cover of darkness, walk them 50 yards up the road and they walk on 50 yards back again, and that’s the only outing the dog gets. 

“What is needed is a nationwide DNA bank, with dog owners being required to have their dog’s DNA recorded so that any piece of dog mess that is left behind can be tested and referred to back to the bank. 

“The fact that they have had their dog tested and identified would be denoted by a special disk on the collar. 
“If people know that whatever they do, wherever they do it, they’re going to get caught I would just bet that it would resolve the matter throughout the country overnight. 

“It’s got to be done at Government level not us putting piddly little notices up. 
“These people who are responsible for allowing their dogs to foul know full well that they shouldn’t be doing it – they’re just giving two fingers to the rest of us.” 

Cllr John Ley-Morgan is not the first to call for a dog DNA database for a forensic solution to the problem. 
It was first trialled on a local level in 2016 by Barking and Dagenham Council and hailed as a 'great success', with the amount of dog mess on the streets more than halving. 

Darren Rodwell, the authority’s leader, conceded that most people who signed up were already responsible dog owners but it raised awareness and created 'peer pressure'. 

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Small scale schemes have also been rolled out in Spain and Germany, but none at a national level. 

North Somerset Council has public space protection orders to tackle a range of issues including littering, dog fouling and antisocial behaviour. 

Breaches can result in £75 fines and be enforced by council staff, police officers, PSCOs and, soon, Local Authority Support.

The council is bringing in the firm to act as 'extra eyes and ears around the district' to help with enforcement. 

Enforcement manager Chris Clarke told the scrutiny panel meeting: “Local Authority Support will effectively patrol problem areas, so seafronts, town centres, generally where we have high footfall, but anywhere in the district where we have issues. 

“Some offences will be zero tolerance – littering and dog fouling they will issue on the spot fixed penalty notices. 
“There might be others such as street drinking where people will be warned first and asked to stop, and then they’ll only be issued the fixed penalty notice if they refuse or they’re found to be doing it again.”

The firm will help to educate the public on the impact of the offences and has offered to speak to schools and businesses. 
The council expects to prosecute 700 breaches of its PSPOs a year. 

Mr Clarke said the council’s legal team does not have the resources to deal with the extra cases so it is in talks with the courts.

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