Complaints over dog fouling fall

The council wants to tackle the scourge of dog poo.
The council wants to tackle the scourge of dog poo.

The number of dog-fouling complaints in Northumberland has dropped since the start of a new campaign to tackle the issue, it has been said.

Last summer, Northumberland County Council introduced the Green Dog Walkers scheme.

Local dog walkers have been encouraged to sign up to the initiative – agreeing to always clean up after their pooch, put their bag in the bin and to use a friendly approach to encourage other dog walkers to do the same.

Since launching in July, 904 dog walkers have signed up to the scheme and it appears to be going some way to tackling the issue of dog fouling.

A county council spokesman said: “The scheme has proved popular with the public and we intend to continue to promote it during 2018.

“Although we have issued between 80 to 120 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) per year for the last five years for dog-fouling offences, dog-fouling complaints have fluctuated between 1,800 to 2,000 a year.

“It is only this year that we are seeing a significant drop in the numbers of complaints – approximately 26 per cent to date. Since the start of the campaign there has been a significant drop in the number of dog fouling complaints received, although it is too early to know whether this drop will be sustained.

“In any case, the environmental enforcement team is maintaining its patrolling levels and will investigate every complaint received.”

In 2016/17, 101 FPNs were issued in Northumberland for dog fouling. For the current 2017/18 year so far to date, 58 FPNs have been issued.

Litterbugs are also targeted. In 2016/17, 176 FPNs were given to offenders, while 92 have been issued so far in 2017/18.

In addition, in 2016/17 and 17/18, the council has successfully prosecuted for 47 environmental offences: 29 litter, seven dog fouling and 12 fly-tipping.

Alnwick county councillor Gordon Castle said: “We recognise the anger and resentment caused by the thoughtless minority who don’t seem to care about their community. We are constantly pressing for as much action as resources and the law allows to deal with this constant problem.”