Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Tougher sentences for people convicted of dangerous dog offences
TOUGHER sentences will be handed to people who are convicted of dangerous dog offences under new guidelines from the Sentencing Council.
The guideline covers the most commonly sentenced offences in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 including allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control causing injury and possession of a prohibited dog.
More than 500 people responded to a public consultation about how owners of dangerous dogs should be sentenced.
The new guideline will mean more offenders will face jail sentences, more will get community orders and fewer will receive discharges.
Owners who allow their dog to be dangerously out of control injuring someone could be jailed for 18 months.
While people in possession of a prohibited dog could face up to six months in prison.
In situations where someone deliberately sets a dog on another person intending to injure them, the offender is likely to be charged with assault, rather than one of these offences.
The guideline has also been extended to include injuries to other animals as an aggravating factor in the offence of allowing a dog to be out of control and causing injury.
District judge and member of the Sentencing Council, Anne Arnold, said: "Most dog owners are responsible and take good care of their pets, but we’ve seen more and more cases coming before the courts of owners who have put the public at risk or let their dog cause injuries - sometimes very serious - to people.
"As a result, this new sentencing guideline encourages courts to use their full powers when dealing with offenders so that they are jailed where appropriate.
"It also gives guidance to courts on making the best use of their powers so that people can be banned from keeping dogs, genuinely dangerous dogs can be put down and compensation can be paid to victims."
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “These welcome changes mean we’re one step closer to tackling the serious menace of weapon dogs, but I’ll continue lobbying for the wider legislation to ensure the owners who deliberately train animals to become weapons dogs receive the same harsh punishment as people who carry knives.”
The new guideline will be used in courts from August 20.
What News Shopper wants
- Increase the sentence for owning a banned dog - in line with carrying a knife.
- Extend the law to include dog attacks on private land - therefore protecting workers such as postmen and carers.
- Increase the prison sentences for owners convicted of allowing their dog to attack humans.
- Force all Staffordshire Bull Terriers to wear a muzzle in public.
- Simplify the court process so that banned dogs can be destroyed immediately.