POLICE have been drafted in to help combat irresponsible dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
The responsibility of snaring those who flout byelaws is usually carried out by council wardens.
But the problem with dog fouling in Hartlepool has become so bad that the local authority have now called in police to force people to scoop their poop.
Hartlepool Borough Council today teamed up with neighbourhood police teams in a pilot scheme in the north and coastal areas of town, and if the scheme proves to be a success then it could be rolled out town-wide.
Over the last 12 months there have been 151 £60 fixed penalty notices handed out for dog fouling, while there were 168 handed out from April 2011 to 2012, and 159 the previous year.
The new initiative will see police and Police Community Safety Officers (PCSOs) patrolling neighbourhoods and issuing fines alongside the council’s Environmental Enforcement Team.
But they need help from residents who are living in dog-muck hotspots so they can catch the offenders in the act.
They need information like:
l Dates, times and locations where alleged offences are taking place;
l A description of the dog and owner;
l The caller’s contact details so information can be fed back.
The crackdown follows a recent investigation by the council’s Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Forum to explore the impact the environment has on people’s health and wellbeing. As well as dog fouling, the team will also be looking to tackle littering and other offences that blight the town.
Councillor Sylvia Tempest, forum chair, said: “The environment people live in is critical to their health and wellbeing and residents constantly tell us that the cleanliness of the town is their top priority.
“To help achieve this, enforcement is essential to ensure a clean and healthy environment and I am delighted that the police is teaming up with the council to take action against those who pay total disregard for their neighbourhoods.
“This joint initiative means police and PCSOs will also be able to support us by covering more of the out-of-hours periods such as evenings, early mornings and weekends.”
She added: “Where people refuse to act responsibly, we adopt a zero-tolerance approach.”
Sergeant Mark Harworth, of Hartlepool Police, said: ”The main benefit of the initiative is that it means the council and police will be able to combine resources and intelligence to tackle this.
“As part of police officers’ day-to-day duties in the north and coastal area they will be issuing FPNs for offences such as dog fouling and littering.
“The large majority of people are law abiding citizens who respect the community but clearly there are others who think it’s acceptable to litter the streets and not clean up after their dogs.”
The council provides free dog waste bags which are available from the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, and all libraries.
Anyone with information about dog fouling or littering should ring (01429) 523333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org