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Dog attack powers ‘not being used’ – BBC News

Image copyright PA
Image caption The increased powers to deal with dog attacks were introduced in 2014

Powers introduced to curb dog attacks are not {being used|used|getting used} by the authorities, a Freedom of Information request by the Victoria Derbyshire show suggests.

Some 77% of the 311 councils in England, Scotland and Wales that responded had not issued any Community Protection Notices (CPN), which demand owners take steps {to prevent|to avoid|to stop} attacks.

Hospital admissions from dog attacks have risen by 21% over five years.

The Local Government Association said notices were only one {control|get a grip on|get a handle on} method.

The CPNs, also known as Dogbos, were introduced in 2014 to give police and local authorities more powers to demand irresponsible dog owners took steps {to control|to regulate|to manage} their animals’ behaviour {and prevent|and stop|preventing} attacks before they occurred.

The orders are usually issued to deal with minor incidents, {such as|such as for example|such as for instance} when a dog has shown {it is|it really is|it’s} capable of aggression. They order the responsible person {to stop|to avoid|to prevent} doing something, such as letting the dog {into|in to} children’s play areas, or take action {such as|such as for example|such as for instance} ensuring their pet is muzzled.

Injuries rising

Only 43 out of the 311 councils who responded to the Freedom of Information request have issued the orders, handing out {at least|at the very least|at the least} 127 {in total|altogether|as a whole}. Twenty-seven said the orders were not available or {not|maybe not|perhaps not} applicable and two refused to issue them {on the grounds of|due to|on the basis of} time taken. Some 87 councils {did not|didn’t|failed to} respond.

{Fewer than|Less than|Under} half of {the police|the authorities|law enforcement} forces we contacted could state {whether they|if they|whether or not they} had issued any CPNs. Of the 18 forces that did give us information, only four said they had issued one.

Figures from NHS England show that in 2011-2013 there were 6, 317 admissions for dog bites or injuries, rising to {a record|an archive|accurate documentation} high of 7, 673 in 2015-2016, {an increase|a rise|a growth} of 21. 47%.

{Almost|Nearly|Very nearly} a quarter {of these|of the|of those} (24%) were children.

‘I was screaming and screaming for help’

Image copyright Sandra McEvitt
Image caption Ellie has been left with scarring after the attack in May

Sandra McKevitt’s niece Ella, three, was mauled by five XL American bulldogs who broke through a fence in her garden in Liverpool {in May|in-may}.

“One dog bit her on the leg, then one on the shoulder and you could see the blood pouring, they just wouldn’t leave her alone.

“One of my neighbours jumped over and started banging and shouting to distract them {and it|also it|plus it} worked.

“One dog had her by the jaw at one point and I was banging on his head. I tried to open his jaw and she fell out and they were all jumping on her.

“The paramedic who came was off work sick with shock {afterwards|a while later|a short while later}.

“An air ambulance took her to hospital and she endured seven hours of theatre. She still {has to|must|needs to} go back {and may|and could|and might} need surgery on her scars. She’s {having to|needing to|being forced to} see a psychologist and psychiatrist.

“There were my neighbour’s dogs, you could hear them barking. He was breeding them and {selling|trying to sell|attempting to sell} the puppies for 5, 000 each. I was shocked {to find out|to learn|to discover} they weren’t classified as dangerous dogs.

“They were all destroyed and the puppies {given to|directed at|fond of} an animal charity. {He’s|He is} in prison for {18 months|1 . 5 years}. I {don’t think|don’t believe|do not think} it’s long enough. ”

{In the past|Before|Previously} five years there has been a 37% drop in {both the|both|the} number of cases against owners, falling from 805 to 511, and {the number of|the amount of|how many} convictions, from 593 to 374, figures from the Ministry of Justice show.

But our research found there was some confusion over whose responsibility it was to issue the orders.

Some councils, including Merseyside and Mid Suffolk, said it was {down to|right down to|down seriously to} the police, {while others|while some|although some} worked in tandem with forces.

Others, like North Devon, said they informed police once they were issued.

‘Awareness important’

Bill Lambert, from the Kennel Club, said {it was|it had been|it absolutely was} disappointing the legislation {was not|had not been|wasn’t} being used more, as {in most cases|generally|typically} whenever a bite occurred, the dogs {had been|have been|was} brought to the notice of the authority beforehand.

“Harsh penalties {after the|following the} event {do not|usually do not|don’t} prevent it happening, ” he said.

“The local authority {might find|will dsicover} it {a difficult|a hard|an arduous} issue {to address|to handle|to deal with} and {we want|we wish|we would like} the local authorities and {the police|the authorities|law enforcement} to {work together|interact|come together}. It’s not {been around|been with us|existed} that long yet and awareness {is important|is essential|is very important}. They are tools that can be used. ”

The Local Government Association said CPNs were usually issued following a written warning, and the possibility {of one was|of 1 was|of just one was} {an effective way|a good way|an ideal way} of changing behaviour {in some cases|in some instances|sometimes}.

Improved community engagement, orders controlling behaviour {in public|in public areas|in public places} spaces – such as ensuring dogs are kept on leads in certain areas – and civil injunctions are also used.

A spokesman said: “Crime and anti-social behaviour varies from place to place and that is why councils, who know their areas {best|most readily useful|most useful}, are responding in different ways using different tools and approaches. ”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the Dangerous Dogs Act gave police and local authorities power to intervene early with owners.

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09: 00 and 11: 00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40683116

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