Health & Safety
Dangerous Dogs Offences - Consultation
21 March 2015
The CWU has welcomed the publication of the Sentencing Council's public consultation on sentencing guidelines for dangerous dogs offences this week.
The CWU 'Bite-Back' campaign successfully won major changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act Which included the extension of the law to cover attacks on private property and also won the introduction of far tougher penalties with the maximum two years prison sentence rising to five years in cases of injury and 14 years in the case of death along with unlimited fines.
The stronger penalties however do require a greater consistency in sentencing by the courts in order to effectively tackle these offences. The CWU has been pressing the Government to initiate a Sentencing Council review in order to produce fresh guidance to Judges and this public consultation is an important part of that process, allowing stakeholders to input and exercise a view.
The risk of dog attacks on postal workers is increasing as growing numbers of parcels and signed-for items naturally lead to more occasions on which front doors are being opened by customers to collect their items and the risk is that dogs escape and sometimes launch an attack on delivery staff where the owners haven't secured their dogs before going to the door.
Through the CWU's 'Bite Back' campaign we suggested that penalties for dangerous dogs offences be toughened and brought in line with those for dangerous driving offences which the Government eventually agreed to. The new revised and extended Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in May 2014 so we are pleased at last to now see the sentencing guidance set out in the new proposals for courts to follow. The guidelines would provide "much-needed clarity and consistency in assessing cases" and are very appropriate for the serious nature of dog related crimes. We need to see greater consistency in sentencing as there are stark differences across the country which new guidelines will hopefully help level out.
Dog attacks remain a serious occupational hazard for our members, we're still seeing 3,000 dog attacks on postal workers every year. More needs to be done to raise awareness and tackle irresponsible dog owners.
It is important that consistent, tougher penalties and guidelines are introduced and enforced countrywide.
The Sentencing Council welcome submissions of views on the consultation. It wants to hear from people with "expertise or an interest in the issue" and wants people to encourage colleagues to respond. The consultation document is available on-line at: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Dangerous-Dog-Offences-Guideline-Consultation-web.pdf (PDF document).
Any responses to the consultation can be sent by post to:The Sentencing Council for England and Wales The Royal Courts of Justice East Block, Room EB20 Strand London WC2A 2LL
The consultation closes on 9 June 2015.