Scottish Parliament Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee Review of Dog Attacks and Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 – Report
Introduction – Bite-Back Campaign Re-Launch
This is an update report to Safety Reps, Branches and Regions further to LTB No. 113/2019 dated 18 February 2019 and LTB No. 572/18 issued on 9 October 2018 and to inform you that the Scottish Parliament’s Public Accounts and Post Legislative Scrutiny (PAPLS) Committee of MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) have published their report on the above.
As CWU Branches, Safety Reps and Regional Safety Forums will know from previous LTBs, there are currently two public inquiries or legislative reviews underway, looking at the dangerous dogs problem in the UK, examining the effectiveness of the current Dog Control Legislation and its enforcement. One is being undertaken in Westminster by the UK Government’s House of Commons, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and a second, in Holyrood, Edinburgh by the Scottish Government’s Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee. Both inquiries were brought about, in no small part by a concerted effort and lobbying by the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department’s ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign re-launch, following growing problems across the country with dangerous dogs law enforcement by Police and the Courts.
Additionally the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been working hard campaigning also in Wales, pressing the Welsh Government to take action and a number of meetings have taken place with Ministers, MPs, MSPs and MLAs.
The Union has been successful in gaining the support of all political parties during our campaigning.
Motion to Scottish Parliament on Dangerous Dogs Laws
As you will know, the CWU ‘Bite-Back’ campaign was re-launched in Scotland in 2018 and we have been lobbying hard, engaging with Ministers and MLAs over the last year in efforts to press for further changes and strengthening of the dog control laws and its enforcement in Scotland which I have to say is far from satisfactory. Our campaign led to a Motion coming before the Scottish Parliament on 8 May 2018 calling for a review of Scottish Dangerous Dogs Law and I’m proud to say that the Motion was carried unanimously, supported by every political party after I had met and engaged them all. This was followed by meetings with the Minister and Shadow Ministers and party leaders. This has culminated in the inquiry by the Scottish Government Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee.
- Early 2018 CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department re-launches ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign in the Scottish Parliament, lobbying and writing to all MPs and attending a number of meetings with MLAs and Ministers.
- CWU ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign on Postal Worker Dog Attacks’ links up with Radio Argyle ‘Lead The Way Campaign’ on dog attacks on Young Children.
- Cross Party discussions and meetings take place.
- A Motion is put to the Parliament calling for a Dog Control Law review and a debate takes place in the Scottish Parliament on 8 May 2018 relating to the effectiveness of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.
- On the 28 of June 2018 the Parliament’s Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee agreed to undertake a Post Legislative Review of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.
- Written evidence was called for from 3 July 2018 to 5 October 2018. CWU Evidence submission made.
- The Committee held three public engagement meetings in December 2018/January 2019 at Airdrie, Dalkeith and Dundee.
- Oral evidence sessions were held in February/March 2019. CWU evidence given on 21 February this year.
- 18 July 2019 – PAPLS Report published.
- Parliament scheduled to debate the Report in September.
Having given consideration to the contents of the Report, its conclusions and recommendations, it will be very much welcomed across the CWU in Scotland and in the UK as a whole as the Report will feed into the Dangerous Dogs Inquiry in Westminster also. The Report will be debated in the Scottish Parliament in September when hopefully the Scottish Government will accept the Report Recommendations in full and take appropriate action.A copy of the Report ‘Executive Summary’ is attached containing 33 conclusions and recommendations, all of which support evidence given by the CWU.
- There is an unacceptably high prevalence of dog attacks in Scotland and numbers have increased.
- The PAPLS Committee considers that dog attacks levels are a ‘national crisis.’
- Dog Control Legislation is weak and ineffective.
- A Scottish Dog Control Notice Database is required.
- General Practitioners, hospitals, local authorities and Police Scotland should be required to record and collect consistent dog attack data.
- The Scottish Government should urgently undertake a dog control awareness raising programme which is long overdue.
- Some local authorities and Police officers are not aware of or don’t understand dog control legislation.
- There is a lack of co-ordination between Police and local authorities.
- In many cases no sanctions are made in cases against owners of dogs who pose a risk to the safety of members of the public and animals.
- Appointing an insufficient number of dog wardens has negatively impacted on local authorities’ ability to implement Dog Control Law.
- Dog Control Notices (DCNs) should not be used as an alternative to the dog seizures under the 1991 DD Act. Where a victim has been injured and a prosecution is pending, the dog should be seized until the case has been heard.
- Local authority dog seizure powers should be strengthened.
- Victims of dog attacks should be entitled to know the outcome of the prosecution or other action that has been taken against the owner of the dog by the local authority.
- A database containing information on dog control activity should be set up and available to local authorities and Police Scotland.
- A new offence of ‘obstruction’ should be introduced in order to assist local authorities.
- Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) should be introduced for minor breaches of a Dog Control Notice (DCN).
- Local authorities should exercise their powers and create secure play areas for children in public parks from which dogs are prohibited and additionally create areas for dogs.
- The ‘reasonable apprehension’ requirement within S10 of the DDA 1991 which has created the so called ‘one free bite’ rule perception should be amended.
- A Dog Licensing scheme for dog owners should be considered.
- Legislative Controls on dog walking services should be considered.
- The Scottish Government should consider a modern consolidated Dog Control Act.
- The Scottish Government should assesses the scale of the public health impact of dog bites, and the associated cost implications, to determine if a multi-agency public health approach to tackling dog control issues is required.
- The PAPLS Committee concludes that the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 has had limited effect in preventing or reducing the number of dog attacks in Scotland.
- The PAPLS Committee concludes that current dog control law is not fit for purpose and recommends that the Scottish Government undertakes a comprehensive review of all dog control legislation without delay, with a view to introducing modernised, fit for purpose, consolidated dog control legislation.
- The PAPLS Committee concludes that in the interim, the Government must improve the implementation of the 2010 Act.
I will update branches further in due course.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer