Scottish Parliament Review of Dog Attacks and Dog Control Laws:
LTB 444/19 updated Branches on the Scottish Parliamentary Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee Review of Dog Attacks and Dog Control Legislation in Scotland.
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been working extremely hard campaigning in Westminster, Scotland and Wales, pressing the Governments to review the Dog Control Laws and their enforcement, as despite the significant law changes achieved by the CWU Bite-Back Campaign, leading to more prosecutions, dog attacks on CWU members continue at an alarming rate with members receiving horrific injuries in some cases.
The Union has been successful in gaining the support of all political parties during our campaigning and as previously reported. Following extensive lobbying followed by both written and oral evidence given to the Scottish Public Inquiry, the Scottish Parliamentary Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee published a very strong, hard hitting report and recommendations welcomed by the Union in which the MSPs agreed with the CWU that the dog law has been ineffective.
The CWU wholeheartedly congratulates all members of the PAPLS Committee in their thorough investigation of the dangerous dogs and dog control problem and the key findings which cannot be ignored as follows:
- There is an unacceptably high prevalence of dog attacks in Scotland and numbers have increased (and continue to increase).
- Dog attacks levels are a ‘national crisis.’
- Dog control legislation is weak and ineffective.
- The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 has had limited effect in preventing or reducing the number of dog attacks in Scotland.
- The current dog control law is not fit for purpose and a comprehensive review of all dog control legislation must take place without delay.
Those points sum up in a nutshell, very powerfully the current situation and the task facing the Scottish Government.
The CWU has told the Scottish Government that the key changes required include:-
- Ending the “One Free Bite” Rule which is applied in Scotland (meaning that irresponsible dog owners are not prosecuted even if their dog attacks and badly injures someone but has no previous known history of attacks or aggression).
- The Legislation needs urgent consolidation, simplification and amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act Section 10 in particular.
- Enforcement must be stepped up and properly resourced.
- The Courts require clear guidance on sentencing and must use the full range of penalties and ancillary orders.
- Destruction and Contingent Destruction Orders must be part of sentencing in aggravated offence cases.
- Automatic dog ownership bans for those convicted of aggravated dog control offences
- Mandatory third party liability insurance must be introduced to ensure all victims receive just, injury compensation underpinned by a ‘fund of last resort’ as in both motor accident injuries and asbestos diseases.
- Reinstatement of Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) awards to dog attack victims.
- A programme of public awareness and education including an element in schools.
- Correct and consistent use of Dog Control Notices (DCNs).
- Increased numbers of Police Specialist Dog Legislation Officers and Local Authority Dog/Animal Control Wardens.
- Minimum conditions added to all Dog Control Notices such as Third Party Liability Insurance, muzzle on lead in public, secure premises, owner and dog training.
- Enforcement of the ‘Control of Dogs Order 1992’ which requires a collar and ID tag to be worn by all dogs or a maximum £5,000 fine.
- The introduction of Dog Licences (such as in Northern Ireland) with funds raised ring-fenced for dog control enforcement – in Scotland with an estimated dog population of 800,000 this would raise £8m.
We currently await the Scottish Government’s response to the PAPLS Committee’s Report and the Scottish Parliament is due to debate the report and response on 1st October.
The Communication Workers Union has written to Ash Denham the Scottish Parliament Minister for Community Safety urging the Government to accept the Report and Recommendations in full and has also written to all MSPs of all parties asking for their support when the debate takes place and decisions are made.
Also three example cases with graphic photos of the members’ horrendous injuries have been sent to the Minister, Government and MSPs to drive home the importance of tackling this ‘national crisis’ of dog control.
See attached copy of letter to the Minister and images of the victims, CWU members John Browne Elgin Delivery Office, John Diggle Thornhill Delivery Office and Lynn Ferguson Tranent Delivery Office. The CWU thanks the three members for their support in allowing their cases and photographs to be used in furtherance of our campaign.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer