These laws come from the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, and give Councils the power to make orders regarding dogs in their area.
They are called dog control orders (DCO’s). The power to make such an order is contained in Section 55(1) of the Act, and it enables them to be made by primary or secondary authorities ie. not just district councils (primary) but also by parish councils (secondary).
Five offences may be prescribed in a DCO:-
- failing to remove dog faeces
- not keeping a dog on a lead (the length can be specified)
- not putting and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer (again, the length can be specified)
- permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded
- taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land
The penalty for an offence is a fine of up to £1,000 OR a fixed penalty may be offered as an alternative.
There must be consultation undertaken before a DCO is made and the publicising of a DCO after it has been made. A notice must be published in a local newspaper circulating in the area and invite representations and at least 28 days must be given for replies. If an order is actually made, another notice must be published in a local newspaper giving at least 7 days notice of the DCO coming into force. It should also be on the Council’s website (if they have one).
‘Where practicable’ signs must be placed giving a summary of the DCO.
In common with the pre-existing dog-fouling regime, a DCO can only apply to land which is open to the air (on at least one side) eg. Bus shelter; and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access. However, the restrictions in the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 do not apply to DCO’s.
An officer of a secondary authority can issue a fixed penalty notice in his area for the breach of a DCO made by the primary authority.
The offences don’t apply to working dogs or guide dogs “where appropriate”
There are defences to the offences:-
- having a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with an order NB being unaware of a dog’s defecation, or not having a device or other suitable means of removing the faeces is not a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the order), or
- acting with the consent of the owner or occupier of the land, or of any other person or authority which has control of the land
With effect from 20th October 2014 Councils can no longer make new Dog Control Orders and any existing ones will only remain in force for 3 years after which they become converted to Public Spaces Protection Orders. These new powers are available for Councils (though not for parish or community councils) if there are activities taking place in a public place which are having (or are likely to have) a detrimental effect on quality of life. Councils will no longer have to advertise the proposal in a local newspaper although it must still be published (details have not been set out on what this entails). If a PSPO is made it must be published on the Council’s website and notices erected that the Council considers sufficient. If there is a breach the maximum Fixed Penalty Notice is £100 and if prosecuted the maximum fine is £1,000.