The Communication Workers Union today (Tuesday) welcomes the Defra consultation on sentencing for dangerous dog offences and hopes that tougher and more consistent sentencing will be brought in.
The consultation runs from 6 August to 1 September 2013 and can be found online on the Defra website. CWU is encouraging all branches and affected members to participate as the results of the consultation will be used to inform the recommendations put forward in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.
Dave Joyce on BBC News this morning (Tuesday)
Dave Joyce, CWU national health and safety officer, said: “Current sentencing arrangements do not match the serious nature of offences. 16 people have been killed in dog attacks since 2005 by dogs and a quarter of a million people are bitten by dogs in the UK every year, yet the maximum prison sentence is just two years and a £5,000 fine. Only one person has ever been imprisoned for a dog attack on a postal worker when the postman was nearly killed but the sentence was just four and a half months. As the number of dog attacks and number of fatalities continues to grow – sentencing must get tougher to deal with irresponsible, negligent dog owners.”
CWU represents the largest number of dog attack victims – postal workers and telecom engineers who suffer 5,000 dog attacks each year. The union warmly welcomes the consultation and hopes that tougher sentencing arrangements will be part of the package of important dangerous dogs law changes later this year which includes extending the law to private property, introduction of Dog Control Notices, compulsory microchipping and extended police dog seizure powers.
“This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership” said Dave. “We want to see tougher sentencing, better enforcement and greater consistency in sentencing. At the moment people are being handed vastly different sentences for very similar crimes, with one person receiving a suspended prison sentence while another walks away with just a £100 fine.
“Current arrangements are simply not good enough and the punishments do not fit the crimes. We would draw comparisons with driving offences where causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous or inconsiderate driving has a maximum prison sentence of five years and an unlimited fine plus automatic disqualification and causing death by dangerous driving has a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years. We want to see something similar for serious dangerous dog offences, given the devastating effect that dog attacks can have on peoples’ lives. Irresponsible dog ownership causes injury and distress to thousands of our members, others workers, children and the public alike – it must be tackled.”
CWU has been campaigning for changes to dangerous dogs laws since 2007. The union’s Bite Back campaign has the support of major animal charities, enforcement agencies and businesses. During this time the campaign has resulted in dog control law changes in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Wales was about to legislate until Westminster brought forward these proposals earlier this year.