Dog fouling complaints slashed by a third in north Norfolk following campaigns
- Credit: Archant
Dog fouling is continuing to cause a stink across the region.
North Norfolk District Council revealed it has received more than 300 complaints on the issue over the last three years.
However, it has only issued one fixed penalty ticket for dog fouling during the same period.
The council released the figures to this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request.
It insisted it has a zero-tolerance policy on environmental crimes and fixed penalty notices are issued when an offence is witnessed.
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However, the local authority pointed out that complaints about dog fouling have fallen by almost a third since 2012/13 when it recorded 182 reports and 2015/16 when it recorded 133.
The latest figure follows the Pooper Scooper Hero and No Messing campaigns aimed at educating dog owners to clean up after their pets.
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Defending its record, a district council spokesperson said: 'When the council receives a dog fouling complaint it is too late for the offence to be witnessed by a council officer. A council officer has to witness the offence taking place to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).
'It's common for there to be more than one report of a single incident of dog fouling, especially in an area of high footfall.
'Whether a FPN notice is issued relates to whether an incident was witnessed with sufficient evidence to meet the test – which is that if the person fails to pay the FPN the council has enough evidence to successfully prosecute for the original offence.
'To tackle the issue of dog fouling - a notoriously difficult offence to witness - across a large number of parishes and towns, the team uses a hotspot system where, based on the number of complaints in an area it is identified as a hotspot and then high profile signage and pavement stencils deployed.
'Monitoring is undertaken before and after and volunteer community dog wardens patrol the area and offer advice to dog owners and provide pet owners with free dog poo bags. This approach was used successfully in Sheringham Promenade over Christmas and supported with a social media campaign.
'The number of reports of dog fouling is dependent on a number of factors – whether people are willing to report, how easy it is to report, whether campaigns have helped to raise awareness of the issue. It is only possible to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice when the offence is witnessed with sufficient evidence to take the case to a successful prosecution should the offender fail to pay.'