Catch and convict- the fight against dog fouling

A CATCH and convict campaign is being launched to clamp down on dog fouling across the borough.

Environmental rangers will be carrying out surveillance patrols at peak dog walking times to catch inconsiderate owners who fail to pick up their pet’s mess.

And the council’s new cabinet member for environment, Mark Thompson, warned that, although it was possible to issue fixed penalty notices, their intention was to name and shame the culprits by taking them to court.

The council is pledging to build on its progress last year when 15 dog owners were prosecuted and fined a total of �1,510 – nearly three times the number for the previous five years.

The council had recorded 145 complaints about dog fouling last year and it was also one of the biggest issues of concern raised at neighbourhood police meetings.

And the campaign will be boosted in the coming weeks when the environmental rangers are brought back to full strength through the recruitment of an extra team member.

Cllr Thompson said: “The responsibility lies squarely with dog owners. If you can’t pick up after your dog, don’t own a dog.

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“We have a lovely-looking town but there are some areas where irresponsible dog owners are causing problems by not clearing up after their pets.

“I would like to think it is about common sense. We all have a stake in our town and it is our collective responsibility.

“We would welcome information from members of the public who see dog owners flouting the law.”

He also highlighted the “crazy actions” of dog owners who picked up after their pet and then left the plastic bag hanging from a tree branch; this was a common practice in his ward in Fritton woods.

Glenn Buck, the council’s community protection manager, said that the difficulty with prosecution was that they needed proof of the incident through someone witnessing it.

Most of the 2010 prosecutions were pursued on the strength of a ranger witnessing an incident, but they were also gaining evidence from the town centre CCTV.

He said: “Ideally we would like formal evidence from members of the public but even anonyomous tip-offs are useful, giving us information about individuals and the times and places they walk their dogs.”

North Denes was a particular hotspot for dog fouling and it was difficult to catch people because they and their pets were often hidden by the dunes.

There were also problems with people taking their pets through areas where dogs were banned, such as St Nicholas churchyard or Yarmouth beach between the piers.

Mr Buck stressed that they would much rather dog owners got the message without prosecuting them.

He said: “We are not sneaking behind trees to catch people. Our rangers wear high visibility jackets. We want people to pick up.”

Senior environmental ranger Paul Shucksmith said there was no stereotype for an irresponsible dog owner. “They can be pensioners and I have recently cautioned two young people,” he said.

A report to Monday’s meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee highlights the success of dogwatch schemes which have been set up in neighbourhoods near schools and voluntary dog wardens run by parish council.

Anyone who witnesses dog fouling is invited to ring the environmental health help line on 01493-846478 or email