Scottish Government Appoints CWU’s Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce to their Dog Control and Dangerous Dogs Law Review Group
CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce has been appointed to the Scottish Government led dog control and dangerous dogs law review working group to advise and assist with taking forward the Scottish Government commitment to review the Dangerous Dogs Act.
The Scottish First Minister announced in the ‘Programme for Government’ that the Scottish Government will review the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act to help inform future Government policy and legislative changes to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in Scotland. This review is taking place with a view to introducing new legislation within this parliamentary session.
The Scottish Government led dangerous dogs review working group will look at the Legislation, enforcement, dog owner ‘strict liability’, statutory guidance a joint enforcement protocol involving Local Authorities and Police Scotland.
Other members of the working group include representatives from Scottish Government Criminal Law, Practice and Licensing Unit, Police Scotland, Local Authorities, The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS), Society of Chief Environmental Officers (SCEO), Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service(COPFS), Faculty of Advocates (Lawyers), Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), Scottish Community Safety Network (SCSN) and other key stakeholders including victim’s.
The Scottish Government will lead the enhanced review working group to support and inform policy thinking on prospective changes to the 1991 DDA Act which is the main criminal law legislation that operates in Scotland and across the UK in relation to dogs. The 1991 Act provides for criminal law measures for dog owners and persons in charge of dogs, where a dog is ‘dangerously out of control’.
The Review Working Group will commence work this month March 2022.
Dave Joyce led the highly successful CWU ‘Bite-Back’ campaign from 2007 to 2014 which achieved significant changes to the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Laws – in Scotland in 2010, Northern Ireland in 2011 and in England and Wales in 2014. This resulted in extension of the law to ‘private property’ where 82% of dog attacks on postal workers occur and where previously dog owners were immune from prosecution. Also sentences were significantly increased, Police powers extended and dog ownership bans and destruction orders became available to courts as additional penalties. Since then the number of prosecutions have increased significantly.
The Legal system in Scotland however differs from the rest of the UK and that system has presented a barrier to successful enforcement of the dog control law.
The number of dog attacks in Scotland rose by 80% over a decade but prosecutions have remained comparatively low.
Dave re-launched the ‘Bite-Back’ campaign in Scotland in 2018 and this resulted in a Motion carried unanimously, with all party support, in the Scottish Parliament calling for the Dog Laws to be reviewed.
A post-implementation review was carried out by a Committee of Scottish MSPs in 2019, concluding in support of the CWU campaign, that the Dangerous Dogs Act was not fit for purpose and 35 recommendations were made to the Government.
A public consultation agreed by a clear majority with the call for strengthening the Dog Law in Scotland and although the pandemic held up progress over the last two years, the Review Working Group will now complete the work on examining the detailed law and enforcement changes with the aim of producing a report before the end of the year.
There are 2,500 – 3000 Dog Attacks on postal workers across the UK every year – many suffering serious injury, some attacks result in permanent, life changing injuries. 1000 postal workers have been attacked through the letter box in the last 5 years, many having fingers bitten off.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer