Royal Mail Backs Tougher Sentencing for Dog Attacks

Royal Mail has welcomed a UK government consultation on proposed tougher penalties for owners of dangerous dogs.

Six months after promising legislation to tackle dog attacks on workers including postal delivery staff, the government finally got round to launching its consultation today.

The consultation, which runs until 1st September, will inform the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

Proposals would extend the powers within the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that legal action against owners can be taken even where dog attacks take place on private property.

The consultation also takes a sounding on increasing the current maximum penalty for an aggravated dog attack of two years in prison.

Royal Mail said today that dog attacks were a “significant hazard” for its staff, with more than 5,500 attacks on postmen and women since April 2011.

It said the fact that current laws do not allow action to be taken where dog attacks occur on private property was a particular problem for its delivery staff, who each visit hundreds of private addresses every day on delivery rounds.

Shaun Davis, the director of health, safety and wellbeing at Royal Mail Group, said dog attacks cause “terrible trauma” to postmen and women.

“Nobody should have to endure this and our postmen and women should not be at increased risk of such attacks simply because of the job they do,” he said, commenting on Royal Mail’s support for the legislation.

“Our first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers.”

The Communication Workers Union, which has been critical of the government for taking so long to come forward with legislation on tougher animal controls after promising to do so back in February, also welcomed the consultation today.

The union said it hoped tougher sentencing for dog attacks could be brought in this year.

Dave Joyce, the CWU health and safety officer, said: “This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership. We want to see tougher sentencing, better enforcement and greater consistency in sentencing. At the moment people are being handed vastly different sentences for very similar crimes, with one person receiving a suspended prison sentence while another walks away with just a £100 fine.”

Looking at the potential to change maximum prison sentences, Joyce pointed to the five-year prison sentences that are the maximum for cases of death by dangerous driving.
“We want to see something similar for serious dangerous dog offices,” he said. “Irresponsible dog ownership causes injury and distress and must be tackled.”

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