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Dog Control PSPO
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in a wide range of powers, including replacing Dog Control Orders. The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for dog control allows us to extend our powers and encourage responsible dog ownership. In turn, this will help make Maidstone an even cleaner, greener, healthier and safer place in which to play, live, work or visit.
An order can be used to control certain activities in a specified area if two conditions are met:
- that the activities have had, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect to the local community's quality of life
- that the effect is, or is likely to be, persistent and continuing nature and is or is likely to be such as to make those activities unreasonable and that restrictions are justified.
They impose conditions or restrictions on people using that area.
Maidstone is home to thousands of the responsible dog owners who exercise their pets across the borough. In addition, our parks and open spaces also attract dog owners from further afield. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible and it has long been felt that irresponsible dog ownership is not limited to whether an owner cleans up after their dog.
The following measures are included in our Dog Control PSPO:
1 Remove dog faeces from land forthwith
A person responsible for the dog(s) commits and offence by not removing dog fouling and disposing of it in an appropriate waste receptacle.
2 Exclusion of dogs from play areas and tennis courts
Dogs are not allowed in specified areas where slides, swings and/or other climbing/ play equipment is located including Council owned tennis courts. These areas can be viewed on the maps below.
3 Keep dog(s) on a lead within the grounds of Sutton Road Cemetery and Vinters Park Crematorium
It is an offence not to keep your dog on a lead within the Sutton Road Cemetery or Vinters Park Crematorium, including the associated grounds.
4 Dogs on leads by direction
It is an offence not to put your dog on a lead when requested by an authorised office i.e. Council Officer, Police Officer or PCSO.
5 Keep dogs under proper control
It is an offence to allow a dog to wander/roam loose/exercise without a responsible dog owner present or not to keep a dog under proper control at any time.
View the Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Order
Maps of the Areas covered by the prohibition
Why have you implemented a Public Space Protection Order for dog control?
The Antisocial behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in more powers, including replacing Dog Control Orders. The PSPO for dog control allows us to extend our powers and encourage responsible dog ownership. In turn, this will help make Maidstone an even cleaner, greener, healthier and safer place in which to play, live, work or visit by:
- reducing the number of dog fouling incidents across the borough
- reducing the number of dogs allowed to stray/collected and make it easier to return dogs to their owners by checking dogs are micro-chipped
- prevent incidents to enable powers to request dogs are placed on leads when directed to do so by an authorised officer
- making play areas safe and welcoming for children to enjoy
- keeping the Crematorium and cemetery peaceful, beautiful place for families to lay their loved ones to rest and remember them
- improving the local community, environment and health and well being for all.
How will the PSPO be enforced?
Authorised officers from Maidstone Borough Council, PCSOs and Police Officers can enforce the Order.
A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 will be issued if any of the PSPO conditions are breached.
In cases of stray dogs, the FPN is reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
Failure to pay the FPN will lead to prosecution and being liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000.
Subsequent or repeat breaches of the PSPO conditions may result in direct prosecution rather than issuing multiple FPNs.
When would you prosecute a dog owner rather than issue a Fixed Penalty Notice?
Prosecution might be appropriate for repeat offenders, or if the offence is so serious that it merits prosecution. For example: a dog owner that 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. The authorised officer would make an assessment of the severity of the circumstance and decide the most appropriate course of action.
Failure to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice would also result in prosecution.
Where does the requirement to pick up after my dog apply?
A person in charge of the dog must remove dog faeces from any land to which is open to the air and to which the public have access.
It means you must pick up your dog’s foul outdoors in parks and on open spaces, on the footpath, highway, bridleways or any other area which someone else could reasonably be expected to access. This excludes your own private front or back garden but includes outdoor communal areas in a flat complex.
Why might I have to put my dog on a lead if a council officer or police officer tells me to?
Requiring dogs to be kept on leads in designated areas likely reduces the risk of dog fouling occurring and ensures dog walkers keep their dogs under control for the safety of yourself, your dog and the safety of others.
The vast 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 distress, will the owner of a dog be instructed to put and keep a dog on a lead.
Why does the PSPO exclude dogs from children’s play sites?
The exclusion of dogs from certain sites, such as children's play areas, is important in ensuring the health of children in what we consider to be a safe and welcoming environment in which children play.
Dog fouling can harbour many bacterium which 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.
Dogs taken into children’s play areas may become aggressive if startled and we need to ensure the safety of children in play environments.
Larger or excitable dogs risk knocking children over and can cause distress to people that are unfamiliar or unconfident around dogs.
Where certain play sites do not have fences, you should keep your dog away from the play equipment and not allow them to interfere with children using the equipment.
I am the only adult with my child/children and my dog. What do I do?
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. Any dog foul must be picked up and securely disposed of in a suitable bin.
Alternatively, your dog can be exercised at another time when you are not accessing a play site.
What Defines "Keeping a dog under proper control"
“Keeping a dog under proper control” means not allowing your dog to cause a nuisance to other people or animals and not allowing a dog to stray.
What defines a “stray dog”?
There is no formal definition of a stray dog in law. A dog may reasonably be treated as a stray if it is roaming freely and not under the control of any person, irrespective of whether it has a home. This applies whether or not the dog wears a collar with identification or is microchipped.
What if my dog is picked up as a stray?
Maidstone Borough Council is taking a zero tolerance approach to straying dogs. There are a number of reasons for this:
- The cost to the Council for collecting stray dogs in 2018/19 was £43,816.50.
- The council was unable to recover a significant amount of this cost because owners failed to pay their invoices relating to the cost of collecting their dog.
- Stray dogs create a number of potential dangers/ hazards when an owner is not around to keep the dog under control such as risk of road traffic collisions, danger to livestock, risk of injury to humans/ other animals and dog fouling.
We feel that it is not fair to expect the Council Tax payer to foot the bill for irresponsible dog owners and that a zero tolerance approach will encourage the irresponsible owners to change their behaviour.
Subsequent/repeat stray offences?
If the same dog is found straying subsequently/ repeatedly, then authorised officers have the power to issue a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or a Community Protection Notice/Community Protection Warning or process for prosecution as appropriate.
Can I appeal a fixed penalty notice?
There is no statutory right of appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because a Fixed Penalty Notice is an invitation for you to discharge prosecution through payment rather than being taken to court. In essence this means that whilst this is not an admission of guilt, you agree that an offence has been committed and that by paying the sum of money specified no further action will be undertaken by the Borough Council. This method of dealing with offences not only saves the time involved for everyone (including the offender) in prosecuting cases at Court, but the cost associated with a Fixed Penalty Notice is likely to be substantially lower than any fine imposed by the Courts.
You may make an informal written representation to the Council within 10 days of the issue date on this notice if you feel the ticket was issued incorrectly. Please make your representation by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to Community Protection, Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 8JJ.
A FPN may be cancelled following the review of the information; where this is so the recipient of the FPN will be notified in writing. Should the FPN remain payable, payment will be due within 14 days of the letter notifying the decision to the recipient.
Do offenders have to pay the fixed penalty on the spot?
No. There are 14 days to pay, unless paying the reduced rate for Offence Code E where there are 10 days to pay at the reduced rate, in which persons can discharge themselves of the liability for prosecution.
What happens if I refuse to pay the fixedpenalty?
It is expected that non payment FPN matters will be prosecuted and you therefore may be liable to a substantially higher fine & costs.
I have limited funds and I will not be able to pay within the 14 days what can I do?
You can contact the Community Protection Team on 01622 602301 to explain your circumstances. This will be reviewed and you may be granted a time extension to pay. You may be required to provide documented proof of your circumstances.
Please note - Fixed Penalty Notices cannot be paid in instalments and you will be responsible for raising the necessary funds to pay the fixed penalty.