Labour urges action on dangerous dogs
Shadow Environment Secretary and Wakefield MP Mary Creagh is calling for the Government to act to strengthen powers to tackle dangerous dogs. The Sentencing Council, which is independent from government, announced a consultation on tougher sentences for dangerous dog offences on 15 December. But the Government still refuses to change the law almost 18 months after Labour’s consultation on toughening existing powers closed.
New figures show that in the ten month period after the consultation closed almost 5,000 people were admitted to hospital for treatment as a result of being attacked by a dog. This includes 689 across Yorkshire.
Labour has been working alongside animal welfare charities, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Communication Workers Union to toughen current legislation. We are calling on the Government to:
1) Extend dangerous dogs laws to cover all places including private property
2) Give police and councils more powers to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs, including the introduction of Dog Control Notices and early intervention powers
3) Review and update existing legislation to focus on “deed not breed”, to reduce costs of enforcement and give greater flexibility to enforcers and courts
4) Explore the extension of microchipping beginning with puppies; so that dog owners can be more easily traced and to encourage responsible ownership
5) Programme of education and engagement on responsible ownership involving animal welfare organisations
Mary said: “Dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners are responsible for thousands of injuries every year. I know from talking to people in Wakefield that this is a real problem in the district. Despite there being cross-party agreement before the General Election that the current dangerous dogs powers needed toughening up, so far the Government have done nothing.
“Labour has set out the five key areas in which we need to see action, including the extension of dangerous dogs laws to cover private property and the introduction of Dog Control Notices. I would urge people who are concerned to respond to the Sentencing Council’s consultation which closes in March.” Shadow Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said “Nearly 100 people are being treated in hospital each week for dog attacks since Labour’s consultation closed last year. Everyone affected by this, victims’ families, dog charities and frontline workers, like posties and midwives, want to see action now.”
Shadow Policing Minister David Hanson said “The Government needs to come forward with tough new legislation urgently to give the police and other authorities the powers they need to protect people from this growing problem.”
The number of hospital admissions was revealed in a response to a written Parliamentary Question: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111114/text/111114w0005.htm