DOG owners who don’t clean up after their pets will be targeted by environmental wardens in the early hours.
Enforcement teams will be on patrol at peak dog-walking times, handing out £40 fines between 7am and 2am.
The pilot scheme will take place in two separate areas of the city throughout November.
And yesterday city chiefs revealed plans to ask the Scottish Government to double the fines officials are able to administer – bringing them into line with those given for littering.
The new pilot is being introduced in Burdiehouse Burn and Moredun, with 21 different council officers working with Police Scotland to hammer home their “zero tolerance” message. The move comes after the Evening News revealed earlier this year that the Capital’s wardens were only issuing a tenth of the fines handed out in Glasgow for dog fouling, with just one fixed penalty notice every six months.
Residents said they hoped the new scheme would go some way to addressing the problem.
Fran Humphrey, a member of the Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park – one of two areas council enforcers will focus on, along with Moredun’s multi-storey flats – said dog fouling was a major issue.
She said: “It’s just a permanent problem, and it’s unpleasant for everybody concerned. But it’s only a minority of people who are doing it.
“We are hoping this will make a difference. It’s a long-term process – it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s about educating people and changing attitudes and getting everybody involved. We need some enforcement to make people realise that it does matter.”
Dog fouling is a top priority for the council, with last year’s Edinburgh People Survey showing only 30 per cent of residents were satisfied with the way the problem is tackled.
The number of environmental wardens operating in the Capital has also plummeted in recent years – from 44 in 2010-11, to just 34.5 full-time equivalent posts.
This month’s pilot – dubbed Don’t Blame The Dog – will see around half the city’s wardens patrolling the parks and streets around Moredun and Burdiehouse Burn in pairs, with the help of police and community safety officers.
Dog owners caught failing to pick up their pooch’s faeces can be fined £40 on the spot – with the penalty increasing to £60 if not paid within 28 days. If another 28 days pass without payment, offenders will be referred to the procurator fiscal.
Council bosses hope to roll the scheme out city-wide if it proves a success.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, insisted the council was operating a “zero tolerance” approach.
She said: “We have got high visibility and plain-clothes teams operating throughout the month from the early hours until the late hours. This is about education – working with schools and the local community and making it an unacceptable thing for people to do.
“I think attitudes have changed for most. People are more responsible than they used to be, but it’s just that small minority.”
Brenda Walter, an environmental warden for Burdiehouse Burn, added: “It’s just trying to educate people. And the more information we get from the public, the easier it is for us.”