Dozens of dog owners fined after launch of police-backed scheme to clean up Hartlepool

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DOZENS of irresponsible dog owners who failed to clean up after their pets have been caught red handed since the launch of a pilot scheme.

The responsibility of snaring those who flout byelaws is usually carried out by council wardens but earlier this year Hartlepool Borough Council drafted in the help of the police after the problem became so bad. The local authority, backed by neighbourhood police teams, launched a pilot scheme in the north and coastal areas of town and since April, 41 dog control orders for fouling and dogs being off leads have been issued.

The initiative sees police and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) patrolling neighbourhoods and issuing £60 fines alongside the council’s Environmental Enforcement Team.

The crackdown followed an investigation by the council’s neighbourhood services scrutiny forum under the previous governance arrangements.

As well as dog fouling, the team is also looking to tackle littering and since April, 106 fixed penalty notices for littering have also been handed out and if the ongoing pilot scheme proves a success it could be rolled out town-wide. The latest figures, for the Seaton, De Bruce, Jesmond, Hart and Headland and Harbour wards, were presented to the north and coastal neighbourhood forum, chaired by Labour councillor Sylvia Tempest.

Helen Beaman, the council’s environment co-ordinator, said: “All officers are now authorised to issue fixed penalty notices which has really helped increases the coverage.

“So far the scheme has been pretty successful and we have been running joint patrols.

“The police and police community support officers have been a great preventative tool and we are pleased with how it has gone.”

Seaton was the most common location with 86 littering fines and 26 dog control orders handed out, which officers said wasn’t unusual as the area is popular with dog walkers.

Over the last 12 months prior to the pilot launch, there had 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.

Speaking at the launch, Sergeant Mark Harworth, of Hartlepool Police, said: “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.”

Residents living in dog-muck hotspot areas can also help catch the offenders in the act by providing information like dates, times and locations where alleged offences are taking place and a description of the dog and owner.

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 customer.service@hartlepool.gov.uk