Press release

Dangerous dogs: tough new law to help prevent attacks

Police and local authorities to be given new legal powers to tackle irresponsible dog ownership

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Beware of the Dog sign

Tough new legal powers to help prevent thousands of dog attacks every year will be given to police forces and local authorities from Monday 20 October.

For the first time, police and local authorities will be able to demand that owners take action to prevent a dog attack or risk fine of up to £20,000. If a complaint has been made about a dog to the council or police, its owners could be ordered to do any or all of the following:

  • Attend dog training classes
  • Muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public
  • Require the dog to be microchipped and/or neutered
  • Repair fencing to prevent the dog leaving the property

Launched today, the Dealing with irresponsible dog ownership: practitioner’s manual will guide police forces and local authorities in the use of their new legal powers to prevent dog attacks.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said:

Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families which is why we are taking tough action against those who allow them to happen. Police and local authorities will now have more powers to demand that irresponsible dog owners take steps to prevent attacks before they occur. This is on top of the tougher prison sentences we introduced earlier this year for owners who allow their dogs to attack people and assistance dogs.

The National Policing Lead for Dangerous Dogs, DCC Gareth Pritchard said:

The Practitioners Manual gives police officers and other practitioners clear guidance on how to best implement the legislative changes, especially the early preventative measures such as Community Protection Notices, to help prevent more serious events occurring in the future. It also provides a platform to share good practice between police forces and partner agencies and it will form part of the ongoing training of Dog Legislation Officers across England and Wales.

Earlier this year, legal changes were made to enable prosecution for a dog attack on private property and maximum prison sentences were extended to:

  • 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack.
  • Five years, from two years, for injury.
  • Three years for an attack on an assistance dog.

The new powers for authorities has also received the support of the Royal Mail Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainability, Shaun Davis:

Royal Mail campaigned for changes to the Dangerous Dog Act to ensure our postmen and women are protected when they enter private property including a customer’s garden. We are pleased that these further changes will help police forces and local authorities use their new legal powers to prevent dog attacks.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

Published 17 October 2014