Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Number of owners fined for dog fouling in Northern Ireland

By Brett Campbell

Only one in nine reported cases of dog fouling in Northern Ireland results in a fine, it has been revealed.

Some 1,614 incidents were recorded here in 2015 - but only a total of 182 penalties were issued.

The statistics show that across the UK as a whole, less than one in 20 reported cases in 2015 resulted in someone being fined.

Ian Humphreys from the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful environmental charity said figures collated by his organisation show dog fouling incidents here remain largely unchanged.

"Our statistics show that there has been virtually no change in the amount of dog fouling over the last number of years," he said.

"What the research shows is that people have stopped reporting it, that's simply it."

Mr Humphreys said the only way to tackle the issue is to create a stigma around it.

In a recent pilot scheme, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful rolled out posters, featuring glow in the dark eyes, in 120 locations.

The charity recorded a 46% reduction of dog fouling in those areas.

Mr Humphreys added: "We need to stigmatise it. Our pilot scheme has shown that psychology plays a huge role in this. When people feel like they are being watched, they will pick it up.

"I don't want to provide simplistic solutions.

"People become blind to posters but, providing they are updated, it reinforces that psychology. People know that someone is paying attention.

"The council can't be everywhere, people need to take responsibility."

In 2015 Belfast City Council issued 154 fines, ranking it fourth out of all UK local authorities issuing the highest number of fines. Barnsley Borough Council was top, with 359 penalties issued in the same period.

Belfast UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said: "Over the past few years there has been an extensive advertising campaign to make people aware of the consequences of not using bags to pick up after their dogs.

"That message has got through, there's no doubt about it."

Mr Rodgers believes there are multiple reasons for the discrepancy between the number of reported cases and the amount of penalties issued.

He added: "People phone in and report offences, but then refuse to provide their own information.

"We also see more people challenging dog wardens today than in the past, sometimes leading to verbal and physical abuse."

Across the UK local authorities issued at least 4,451 fines for dog fouling offences in 2015, totalling in excess of £247,282, research from Direct Line Pet Insurance found.

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, said: "Dog excrement left on our streets and in parks poses a serious public health hazard.

"While it is good that owners have become more conscientious when clearing up after their dogs, there are far too many incidents where people's health is being put at risk as animal faeces is left in public places," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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