Andrew Gwynne MP has backed the Communication Workers Union’s praise for the consultation on sentencing for dangerous dog offences and hopes that tougher and more consistent sentencing will be brought in.
The Union – which represents the largest number of Dog Attack victims – postal workers and telecom engineers who suffer 5,000 dog attacks each year – welcomes the consultation and hopes that tougher sentencing arrangements will be part of the package of important dangerous dogs law changes later this year which includes extending the law to private property, introduction of Dog Control Notices, compulsory microchipping and extended police dog seizure powers.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership. We want to see tougher sentencing, better enforcement and greater consistency in sentencing. At the moment people are being handed vastly different sentences for very similar crimes, with one person receiving a suspended prison sentence while another walks away with just a £100 fine.
“As the number of dog attacks and number of fatalities continues to grows – sentencing must get tougher to deal with irresponsible, negligent local dog owners.”
Dave Joyce, CWU National health and safety officer, said:
“Current sentencing arrangements do not match the serious nature of offences. 16 people have been killed in dog attacks since 2005 by dogs and a quarter of a million people are bitten by dogs in the UK every year, yet the maximum prison sentence is just two years and a £5,000 Fine. Only one person has ever been imprisoned for a dog attack on a postal worker when the Postman was nearly killed but the sentence was just four and a half months.
“Current arrangements are simply not good enough and the punishments do not fit the crimes. We would draw comparisons with driving offences where causing death or grievous bodily injury by careless or inconsiderate driving has a maximum prison sentence of five years and an unlimited fine plus automatic disqualification. We want to see something similar for serious dangerous dog offences, given the devastating effect that dog attacks can have on peoples’ lives. Irresponsible dog ownership causes injury and distress to thousands of our members , others workers, children and the public alike – and must be tackled.”
CWU has been campaigning for changes to dangerous dogs laws since 2007. The Union’s “Bite Back” campaign has the support of major animal charities, enforcement agencies and businesses. During this time the campaign has resulted in dog control laws changes in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Wales was about to legislate until Westminster brought forward these proposals earlier this year.