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Public Spaces Protection Orders for dog fouling and dog control

South Tyneside Council has introduced Public Space Protection Orders to help protect our parks and open spaces against irresponsible dog owners who do not pick up after, or control their dogs properly. 

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) for dog control came into effect in South Tyneside on 20 October 2017. South Tyneside's previous Dog Control Orders have automatically transferred to Public Space Protection Orders, however the new powers also pave the way for the introduction of new controls where these are considered necessary.

What are Public Space Protection orders for dog control?

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).

PSPOs can be used to control certain activities in a specified area if two conditions are met:

  1. The activities have had, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect on those in the area
  2. The effect is, or is likely to be, persistent and continuing in nature and is or is likely to be such as to make those activities unreasonable and that restrictions are justified.

These new powers have replaced existing Dog Control Orders and extend the powers available for dog control.

South Tyneside Council does not plan to introduce additional dog control offences at the present time, however the Council may consider extending existing orders or introducing new orders in the future. Any additional PSPOs will be subject to public consultation.

What do PSPOs mean for South Tyneside's dog owners and visitors to the Borough?

The same legal requirements imposed by the old Dog Control Orders were automatically transferred into Public Space Protection Orders on 20 October 2017, whereby the following offences continue to exist:

  • 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 so by an authorised person (Council Officer, South Tyneside Homes Officer, Community Warden or Police Officer)
  • allowing dogs to access designated fenced off play areas (i.e. dogs are not allowed in specified areas where slides, swings and/or climbing equipment is contained by a fence. The restriction will also apply to tennis courts and multi-use games areas). All fenced off play sites affected by PSPOs display signs advising that dogs are not allowed
  • allowing dogs on school playing fields (only applies to schools that are active, the PSPO does not apply to old fields where the associated school is closed)
  • being in control of more than 4 dogs at any one time
  • failure to keep dogs on leads no longer than 1.5 metres in designated areas:
    • South Marine Park, South Shields
    • All cemeteries in South Tyneside
  • allowing dogs on Sandhaven Beach between the hours of 8am and 6pm from the 1 May to 30 September each year

Enforcement / penalties

Community Wardens, Council Officers and South Tyneside Homes Officers have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for dog fouling and dog control offences. The fixed penalty fine is £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 7 days.

If the fixed penalty is not paid, offenders will be taken to court and prosecuted. The maximum fine on conviction in the Magistrates' Court is £1,000.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions for offences prescribed within PSPO's for dog control offences, however there are specific exemptions that do apply to dog fouling PSPO's.

Further details can be found within the Council's Public Spaces Protection Order: Control of Dogs in Public Spaces254.8KB

Appeals / considerations

There is no formal appeals procedure against the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice. If you would like to contest a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) that has been issued to you, then please contact the Environmental Health team to put forward any mitigating circumstances that you would like to have considered.

You can do this by telephoning South Tyneside Council's Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000 or by emailing the Environmental Health team on environmental.healthmailbox@southtyneside.gov.uk

Prosecution

Legal proceedings may follow if you fail to pay a fixed penalty.

Warning letters will be sent to the address you provided on the Fixed Penalty Notice, however there may be occasions where prosecution will be pursued from the beginning, such as repeat offenders or circumstances where the offence is so serious that it merits prosecution.

For example, a dog owner who allows their dog to be dangerously out of control, despite being directed by an officer to put it on a lead, may risk prosecution rather than being issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Why might I have to put my dog on a lead if a Council Officer or South Tyneside Homes Officer tells me to do so?

Requiring dogs to be kept on leads in some areas can reduce the risk of dog fouling happening unknowingly and makes sure that dog walkers keep their dogs under control for the safety of the public and other dogs.

The majority of parks and open spaces are free of restrictions and only if an authorised officer considers a dog, or dogs, to be out of control or causing alarm or stress, will the owner of a dog be instructed to put and keep the dog on a lead.

Why does the PSPO exclude dogs from fenced off fixed play sites?

Health

The exclusion of dogs from certain sites, such as fenced off children's play areas, is essential to ensure the health of children in what should be a safe and welcoming play environment.

Dog fouling can cause blindness from the disease toxocariasis, which is spread from animals to humans through infected dog faeces. Children should be free to play on the equipment without the fear of treading in or coming into contact with dog faeces.

Safety

Dogs taken into children's play areas may become aggressive if startled and must therefore be excluded from these areas in order to ensure child safety.

I am the only adult with my child/children and my dog. What will I do with my dog if I want to access the fenced off play site to assist my child/children on the play equipment?

Dogs can be securely tied to fences, provided they do not pose a health and safety risk to other children and members of the public. The dog however must be tied to the fence 'outside' the play area. 

Any faeces left by the dog must be picked up and securely disposed of in a suitable bin.

Dogs are strictly not permitted in children's play areas and must therefore be exercised at an alternative time.

Can I use a fenced off play area/ playing field / tennis court / multi-use games area as a 'contained ' area to train or exercise my dog?

No, dogs are strictly not permitted in these areas.

Are other Councils implementing PSPOs for dog control?

Yes, many other Councils have already put PSPOs for dog control into effect, including neighbouring Councils such as Sunderland City Council and Gateshead Council.

Is information about South Tyneside Council's PSPO for dog control published or advertised so people know about it?

Yes, information is available through a range of media including:

  • press releases have been issued to the media and will be updated from time to time
  • South Tyneside Council's social media platforms, including Facebook
  • new signs placed on street lighting columns and erected at the fenced off fixed play sites, playing fields, parks, cemeteries and Sandhaven beach where PSPOs will impact
  • information included in South Tyneside Council's Residents' Newsletter, distributed to every household in the Borough.

What if I have a question about PSPOs for dog control that is not answered in this document?

Please get in touch explaining your query by emailing environmental.healthmailbox@southtyneside.gov.uk quoting 'Public Space Protection Orders for dog control' in the subject line, or call 0191 427 7000 during office hours (8.30am - 5pm, Monday - Thursday and 8.30am - 4.30pm Fridays) and your enquiry will be passed to the Environmental Health Team.

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