Two dog fouling penalties handed out in nine months of ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown
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Only two dog fouling penalties have been handed out since North Somerset Council adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the ‘disgusting act’, and the authority admits it is proving ‘challenging’ to catch offenders.
Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced in November, as the council hoped to lead a crackdown on antisocial behaviour, littering and dog fouling.
A two-month grace period followed, before fixed penalties of £75 were added to the arsenal of a team of around 100 council and police officers.
But since the turn of the year, just two people have been rapped for failing to pick up dog faeces, with one facing court action while the other case is still in process.
North Somerset says the prospect of court action sends a ‘strong message to anyone carrying out this disgusting act’, despite the small numbers of people who have been caught.
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The figures were obtained by the Mercury through a freedom of information request, which also highlighted 91 penalties have been handed out in total with £975 collected in fines so far.
In March, Cllr Peter Bryant – the executive member leading the regime – said the authority has ‘adopted a zero tolerance approach to dog fouling’, but just two penalties given out in six months begs the question whether they serve as an effective deterrent.
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The council believes ‘the orders are working well and are helping to reduce antisocial behaviour’, but admits it is proving difficult to clamp down on irresponsible dog owners.
Its spokesman told the Mercury: “It is still early days for a big new scheme like this.
“Every case is different and must be assessed on its own merits and the evidence presented must be reviewed to ensure it is robust.
“We are very serious about taking court action if the fixed penalty notice does not get paid.
“Littering seems to be the offence which is being witnessed the most.
“Dog fouling is proving more challenging as it is difficult to catch people in the act.
“However despite this we have had several leads from members of the public, one of which is likely to end up with court action.
“This will have the desired impact as it will send a strong message to anyone carrying out this disgusting act.”