Dog foulers pay less than half of £44k owed in fines

File picture: Toby Williams

File picture: Toby Williams

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MORE than half the dog fouling fines dished out across the Capital are not being paid.

The city should have collected £44,000 in fines after environmental wardens issued 1107 fixed penalty notices over the last five years, but has picked up only £21,920.

These figures will be shocking to many who rightly believe that irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets should be penalised for their selfish behaviour.

Chas Booth

At the same time, the number of penalty notices being handed out to irresponsible dog owners has plummeted to 73 in the last year, less than a third of the level four years ago.

The lack of action comes despite dog fouling continuing to be one of the biggest bugbears in the council’s annual survey of residents.

Last year’s Edinburgh People Survey showed only 30 per cent were satisfied with the way the problem is tackled in the city.

Green campaigners today described the situation as “shocking” and called on the council to “redouble” its efforts to tackle the scourge.

Councillor Chas Booth, Green environment spokesman, said: “These figures will be shocking to many who rightly believe that irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets should be penalised for their selfish behaviour.

“That many of them also appearing to be dodging the fines dished out shows we need to simplify the system for pursuing these fines – it should not take lengthy and costly legal proceedings to tackle the perpetrators.

“The council should be raising the issue with the Scottish Government if necessary, and in the mean time should be redoubling its efforts to keep our footpaths clean.”

Owners caught failing to pick up after their pooch are fined £40, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days. If the fine is still unpaid after a further 28 days, it is referred to the Procurator Fiscal, which can issue alternatives to prosecution such as fiscal fines. When dishing out a fixed penalty notice, environmental wardens will ask for an individual’s details and identification to verify who they are, but residents are not legally required to show ID. Providing incorrect details is a further offence.

The council is currently lobbying the Scottish Government to allow it to double the fines it can administer – bringing them into line with those handed out for littering.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said the council was “committed” to tackling dog fouling in the city.

She said: “Our environmental wardens routinely respond to complaints and target hotspot areas too.

“However, it’s not always possible to catch irresponsible dog owners in the act, which is necessary for handing out a fixed penalty notice. Fines are a useful deterrent but this is just one method that we employ.

“We have conducted awareness campaigns to try to highlight these issues and have lobbied the Scottish Government for more severe penalties.”

The falling number of fines being issued in Edinburgh comes against a background of council cuts as the local authority struggles to balance its books. The Evening News revealed earlier this year that the Capital’s wardens issued only a tenth of the fines handed out in Glasgow for dog fouling.

The number of environmental wardens operating in Edinburgh has fallen from 44 in 2010-11, to just 34.5 full-time equivalent posts.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com