Campaign to crack down on dog fouling renewed after zero fines issued in Ipswich in 12 months

Dog walkers are being urged to clean up after their pets

Dog walkers are being urged to clean up after their pets - Credit: Archant

The Ipswich Star is today renewing its appeal to report dog owners who fail to pick up their pet pooch’s mess, after figures revealed that zero fines were issued in the town in the last 12 months.

In April last year the ‘Drop them in it’ campaign was launched by this newspaper after data revealed there had been a 98% increase in reports since 2010, with the campaign resulting in triple the number of incidents being reported.

Now, latest figures unveiled under Freedom of Information laws confirmed that Ipswich Borough Council had failed to issue a single fixed penalty notice for dog fouling in the last 12 months, while Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils had only issued one apiece for the same period.

In the five years to April last year just five penalty notices were issued in Ipswich.

Christopher Hudson, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Ipswich and ward councillor for Kesgrave, said: “These figures are really disappointing and it isn’t good enough.

“There are not bad dogs, just bad dog ownership and I urge my colleagues to give out as many fines as possible to irresponsible dog owners.”

Mr Hudson also highlighted public safety concerns with Toxocariasis passed through dog poo able to cause illness to children, with effects as serious as seizures and blindness in extreme cases.

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While the council last year insisted it took a “zero tolerance” approach to dog fouling, it yesterday said that finding enough evidence to issue fines was difficult but had been targeting campaigns to educate dog owners.

“Dog fouling is both messy and horrible but it is very difficult to find enough evidence at the time to issue penalty notices or to prosecute on a regular basis,” a borough council spokesman said.

“However, we believe in deterrence and education work and we want to thank the overwhelming majority of responsible dog owners for picking up after their pets and also the local media for highlighting the issue. Ipswich Borough Council will continue to patrol ‘hot spots’ and to follow up reports from the public.”

Readers online have been sharing their frustrations at dog owners who have failed to clean up, and highlighted some of the town’s biggest problem areas.

Christchurch Street, Gypeswick Park Drift and Ipswich Waterfront were all flagged up by readers, as well as Long Strops in Kesgrave and various parks in the area.

In Kesgrave, town and district councillor Stuart Lawson said that volunteers had to spend two hours cleaning Long Strops off Millennium Way before they could go ahead with the Easter Egg hunt earlier this year.

Andrew Hawes, who became known as “The Turdinator” after confronting dog walkers in Leiston who failed to tidy up after their dogs believes dog wardens are the only way to stop the problem.

”People are uneasy about coming forward because they can feel intimidated and prosecuting people takes too long.

“In all honesty the only way they are going to stop is if they see someone with authority. People ignore the signs because they know the chances of getting caught are slim.”

Carol Poulter, cabinet member for green environment at Suffolk Coastal District Council, said: “Any dog walker thinking of not bothering to clear up after their dog, should do the proper thing and clear it up straight away. If someone reports seeing someone failing to do so, we will take such reports seriously and will have no hesitation in taking appropriate action against anyone found responsible for an offence.

“Of course, we’d all prefer it if all dog walkers followed the example of the responsible majority who always remember to clear up after their dog, wherever they happen to be, to help keep our beautiful district a clean and healthy place for all residents and visitors alike to enjoy.”

In Ipswich, a post on the Friends of Christchurch Park website said that park patrol officers, litter enforcement officers and community caretakers would be patrolling key areas.

Barking and Dagenham Council in east London had been trialling DNA tests to catch dog owners in January, but Ipswich, Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils all ruled out any possibility in the near future of trying the same due to the cost.

The borough council spokesman added: “We would ask the public when reporting instances to us to provide as much detail as possible including, if they have the information, what time the incident took place and any information on the dog or its owner. The public can report these to the council through the Clean My Street section of our website www.ipswich.gov.uk/report or by phoning the Cleaner Ipswich Hotline 01473 433000.”

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