Additional powers were granted to the police last month under the Anti-social, Crime and Policing Act 2014, designed to give them greater flexibility when dealing with irresponsible dog owners and incidents involving dogs. These powers include acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs), community protection notices (CPNs) and public spaces protection orders (PSPOs).
The Act has also amended Part 7 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, making it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control on private land, even where it has the right to be. Previously this part of the law only applied to public places.
The Countryside Alliance has published an explanation of the new powers for members on its website – http://www.countryside-alliance.org/ca/campaigns-hunting/new-dog-control-powers-and-working-dogs-our-advice
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance said: “These laws should not pose a problem for responsible dog owners, and those who are using hounds, gundogs and other working dogs in a proper manner should have no concerns about the new powers. If however if hunts, shoots or other people using dogs and hounds lawfully in the countryside feel they are being unjustly targeted we would ask them to get in touch with us straight away.”
For more information, contact Countryside Alliance head of media Charlotte Cooper on 0207 8409220 and 07500 834163 or email [email protected]
Notes for journalists
A summary of some of the provisions is given below. For full details go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dealing-with-irresponsible-dog-ownership-practitioners-manual
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)
These are not legally binding and non-statutory agreements that are designed to enable local authorities to address problems associated with dogs and to try to persuade an irresponsible owner to reform. The guidance suggests that ABCs can be used where behaviour could escalate into a more serious incident but does not currently meet any statutory thresholds for formal powers.
Community Protection Notices (CPNs)
These are designed for “low-level” incidents including failing to control a dog and include causing nuisance to other people or animals. However, such behaviour has to “be having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”; be both “persistent and continuing” and “be unreasonable”. A written warning must be issued before a CPN is issued. This is to allow the owner of the dog the opportunity to address any concerns before a CPN is issued. Breach of a CPN is a criminal offence.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs)
PSPOs will replace and allow for similar restrictions as Dog Control Orders. They can be used to exclude dogs from certain areas or require dogs to be on leads etc. The guidance on these new powers states that “having a reasonable excuse is a defence for failing to comply with a PSPO”; that “PSPOs are not intended to restrict the normal activities of working dogs” and that “these activities are not envisaged to meet the threshold for the making of a PSPO”.