Just six fines issued for dog mess in Sandwell, despite thousands of complaints

It costs thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to clean up dog mess, but only six fines have been issued to dog owners in Sandwell in recent years despite there being a huge number of complaints.

Between 2019 to 2021, a total of 3,062 dog foul incidents were recorded by the council.

But only six people were handed a fine for not cleaning up after their pet.

The worst year was 2019, where 1,058 dog fouling incidents were recorded. The most recent data in 2021 reveals 1,051 were recorded, and 953 in 2020.

The data, obtained by insurance group Petplan, included complaints from the public; incidents where a council officer had witnessed dog fouling – and even incidents were dog foul bins were found overflowing.

Sandwell council has increased its dog foul fine over the years from £75 to £100 and in June launched a campaign to crackdown on dog fouling in the borough.

John Read, founder of Clean Up Britain, said dog poo could be extremely toxic.

He warned: “Dog faeces contain toxins and things that are not good for humans, particularly babies and young children. Dog fouling is a danger and an environmental hygiene issue – and it’s also an issue of nobody wanting to step in that dog mess.

“Councils have the ability to fine people up to £1,000 for dog fouling, and they should use that as often as they can to penalise dog owners who are not doing the right thing in clearing up their dog’s mess.”

Mr Read said the increase in dog fouling incidents both in Sandwell and across the country is the result of “number of people who got new pets in the pandemic but weren’t necessarily used to having pets.”

He said: “A lot of new pet owners might not fully realise these kinds of responsibilities that come with having a dog. For the increased number of people who got dogs during lockdown, maybe they took their dog to the park as part of the only exercise available to them and then let them go to the toilet freely in the park.”

Sandwell council told the LDRS the majority of environmental protection staff were redeployed during the pandemic to focus on coronavirus-enforcement activities.

Serco – which operates Sandwell council’s cleaning contract – is responsible for the removal of dog mess.

The council said it does not hold a specific cost figure for the removal of dog fouling, but it costs the council “thousands of pounds each year”.

A Sandwell council spokesperson said: “We are appalled that some people do not clean up after their dogs. It causes a nuisance, it’s unacceptable, it costs council taxpayers’ money to clean up – and it’s unfair on the vast majority of responsible dog owners.

“We thank members of the public who have reported dog fouling in our streets and parks – this data really helps the council to get dog mess cleaned up and also to identify any ‘hot spots’ where this is happening regularly.

“Evidence is the key to the council being able to take enforcement action and issue fines. When we receive strong evidence identifying individuals who haven’t cleaned up after their dog, or where an environmental protection officer  actually witnesses an incident, we will issue a £100 fine.

“We would appeal to everyone to be our ‘eyes’ out in the community and to contact the council with information to help us in our work to tackle dog mess. Please report this at www.sandwell.gov.uk/dogmess or by calling 0121 368 1177.

“Our EPOs will carry out targeted patrols in areas where dog mess is regularly reported alongside their other duties. Our CCTV control room also keeps on the lookout for any evidence of dog fouling incidents.

“We have signage in our parks and open spaces and we have recently launched a new campaign urging people to report people dog mess and reminding all dog owners to ‘bag it, bin it’ to avoid a £100 fine. Campaign banners will be installed on lamp posts in ‘hot spot’ areas over the coming months.”

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