Only two dog control fines issued in South Tyneside in 2018, figures reveal

Only two fines were handed out for dog control offences in South Tyneside last year, according to new council figures.

In 2017, South Tyneside Council introduced Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to crack down on anti-social behaviour and nuisance in the borough.

The orders, launched in partnership with Northumbria Police, can see fines given out for several offences.

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This includes ‘dog control’ rules around picking up dog mess or keeping dogs on leads in certain areas.

A freedom of information request from campaign group, the Manifesto Club,  contacted 347 councils in England and Wales about the use of PSPO powers.

According to the data, South Tyneside Council issued two fines for dog control offences in 2018.

This compares to Durham County Council, which issued 50 fines for similar offences over the same period.

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Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety on South Tyneside Council, Coun Nancy Maxwell, said PSPOs were having a real impact.

“Their presence serves as a useful reminder of the standards of behaviour we expect in South Tyneside and they have been successful in reducing instances of inappropriate or illegal behaviour from the tiny minority of people who breach these expectations,” she said.

“Since the introduction of PSPOs complaints about the use of off-road motor bikes have fallen by 50% and we have also seen fewer cases of people drinking of alcohol in our town centres.

“We recognise the distress that anti-social behaviour can have on residents and PSPOs provide both ourselves and the police with an additional power to tackle this issue”.

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Anyone who breaches a PSPO risks a £100 fixed penalty notice which can be reduced to £50 if paid in seven days.

If the fine is left unpaid, offenders could be taken to court and face a maximum fine of £1,000.

According to the Manifesto Club data, there were nearly 10,000 fines for a range of PSPOs breaches across England and Wales in 2018.

Councils can use PSPOs to ban activities such as begging, nuisance drinking and unauthorised cycling.

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Coun Maxwell added: “We take a proactive, rather than a punitive, approach to responsible dog ownership.

“Our officers regularly talk to dog owners about the importance of clearing up after their pets and we also supply dog waste bags.

“We have also placed signage across the borough in key locations to remind dog owners to clear up after their pets and also to highlight areas where dogs are excluded or need to be kept on a lead.

“We carry out targeted campaigns and are encouraged to note responsible dog ownership from the vast majority of dog owners.”

Dog control offences PSPOs.

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(Legal requirements imposed by old Dog Control Orders were transferred to PSPOs in October 2017).

Allowing a dog to foul on public land without picking it up.

Failure to put a dog on a lead (no longer than 1.5 metres) when asked to do by a council officer, community warden or police officer.

Allowing dogs to access designated fenced-off play areas (slides, swings and/or climbing equipment contained by a fence, tennis courts and multi-use games areas).

Allowing dogs on school playing fields

Being in control of more than four dogs at any one time

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Failure to keep dogs on leads in South Marine Park and all cemeteries in South Tyneside

Allowing dogs on Sandhaven Beach between 8am-6pm from May 1-September 20 every year.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service