Many people are dog owners. If you are one of them it is your responsibility to ensure that your it does not cause dog nuisance to others. Although there is legislation that relates to dangerous dogs, there are also laws that apply to other dog related issues.
In 2005, The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act was introduced. This provided local authorities with the powers to create offences which relate to the control of dogs and dog nuisance. This is only applicable on council owned land and the legislation is referred to as a Dog Control Order.
Dog Control Order
These orders can be applied to any area of land which is owned by the local authority and they can prohibit a number of activities.
Where a Dog Control Order applies, it will usually incorporate one of the following:
- Prohibiting fouling of land and obliging all dog owners to remove dog faeces
- All dogs must be kept on a lead at all times in the designated area
- Dogs are not permitted on the land. This is referred to a dog exclusion zone. Typical dog exclusion zones include beaches and cemeteries
- The number of dogs that an individual can take onto council land
In line with the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act both primary and secondary authorities can create Dog Control Orders.
It is important to understand however what is meant by a primary and secondary authority:
- Primary Authority – A district or county council in England, a London Borough council, The Council of the Isles of Scilly, a county or county borough in Wales or The Common Council of the City of London
- Secondary Authority – Parish councils throughout England and Wales, a community council located in Wales or any piece of land where a Dog Control Order is in force
Land which could be subject to a Dog Control Order could include:
- Play areas and playgrounds which are to be used by children
- Any open, public place where dogs could affect the enjoyment of the area such as a park
- Sports fields where events take place regularly
Under Section 57 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, a Dog Control Order can apply to any land which is open to the air and accessed freely by the public.
While the majority of public land can be covered by these orders, there are exemptions. A Dog Control Order cannot be created on land which is managed and designated by the forestry commission.
Fixed Penalty Notices
Where a Dog Control Order is breached, there is a maximum fine of £1,000 if the case proceeds to court.
The local authority will usually have an enforcement team in place who are responsible for monitoring designated areas of land which are covered by Dog Control Orders. Where an individual has been found committing an offence, the local authority can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice. These Fixed Penalty Notices must be paid within a designated period, after which time the offender will be subject to court proceedings. A prosecution cannot be initiated until at least 14 days after the offence. If the case proceeds to court, the offender will have to pay a much higher price for non-payment of the FPN. This will be in addition to court costs.
Within Section 59 of the Act, the amount of the Fixed Penalty Notice is at the discretion of the local authority. If the local authority do not set their own fee, it will be a standard Fixed Penalty Notice of £75
Dog Control Orders (Procedures Regulations) 2006
Local authorities must be able to justify the need for a Dog Control Order. They must be able to demonstrate that it is required due to problems caused by dog owners and the activities of dogs in public places. The authority must be able to strike a balance between the interests of dog owners and the interests of those affected by the behaviour of dogs. This should take into consideration the requirement for there to be dog free areas or designated places where dogs should be kept under strict control. Failure to take these issues into consideration may result in vulnerabilities in the Dog Control Order.
The authority should also take into consideration enforcement of the Dog Control Order. A failure to correctly enforce the Order could undermine its impact.
These regulations were introduced in 2006 and were designed to work alongside the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. The purpose of these regulations is to provide some guidance on how local authorities can create and implement procedures to establish Dog Control Orders in their local area.
Before a Dog Control Order can be enforced, there are certain steps that local authorities should take:
- A consultation must be held which outlines the local authorities proposals. These proposals must be published in the local media which is circulated in the area where the Dog Control Order is to apply
- Undertake the necessary consultations with other Authorities who have the power to make Dog Control Orders under Section 55 of the Act
Once a Dog Control Order has been created, the local authority should progress through the following steps within 7 days of making the Order:
- Clearly display signage which summarises the order in areas which can be seen by members of the public. These signs should not be concealed or placed in areas where it would be difficult to identify
- A notice should be published in the local newspaper to notify members of the public that an Order has been made. The public must also be able to access a copy of the order or request copies if required
When the notice is placed in the newspaper, it must include a number of elements:
- The land to which the order relates to should be clearly identified
- The order should be clearly and concisely summarised
If the order makes reference to any maps these must be available for inspection. The address of the office where these maps can be inspected must also be included in the notice. The maps must also be accessible, free of charge and at all reasonable hours during the consultation period.
If any representations are to be made, a relevant address must be provided.
Where any representations are made during the consultation period, they must be considered. If the authority then decides to proceed with the Order they must determine when it will come into force.
The information about the Dog Control Order must also be placed on the local authority’s website
Information about the Order must be distributed to any other relevant Authority who also have the power to create these orders
The legislation and guidelines surrounding nuisance created by dogs is extensive and the Dog Control Orders are just one way that authorities address these issues in the local area.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.