The fine for dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets has been doubled by the Scottish Parliament.
The fixed penalty for dog fouling is being increased from £40 to £80 to bring it in to line with the fine for littering. Scotland currently has the lowest fixed penalty for dog fouling in the UK. Fixed penalties are set at £80 in Northern Ireland. In England and Wales they vary between £50 and £80, though most local authorities have set it at the default level of £75.
The change comes after the overwhelming majority of responses to a Scottish Government consultation on responsible dog ownership said they would support the fixed penalty being raised. The Dog Fouling (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Order 2016 takes effect on April 1.
Nearly a third of people experience animal nuisance (dog fouling or animal noise) as a very or fairly common problem, according to the Scottish Household Surveys of 2013 and 2014.
As well as the fixed penalty, the Scottish Government is also considering how to develop a more robust system to tackle the issue of collecting unpaid penalties.
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for community safety and legal affairs, said: “Dog fouling is not only unpleasant, but also can pose potentially significant risks to health, particularly for children, and we’re very clear that dog owners who do not clear up after their dogs are breaking the law.
“We believe the increased penalty will act as a greater deterrent for people who do not take responsibility for their pets and clean up after them.
“Our public consultation has shown us that we have public opinion behind us in an effort to get tougher on dog fouling and to tackle an issue that affects all too many communities across the country.”
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: “We welcome the doubling of the fixed penalty notice for dog fouling, a measure supported by 63 per cent of people asked in a YouGov Poll commissioned by Keep Scotland Beautiful in August 2015.
“Increasing the fine to £80 is a positive step in the right direction and will send a clear message to irresponsible dog owners that their actions have a negative impact on people and communities. However, increased fines form only part of the solution and that is why we are leading a national stakeholder group to develop an action plan on the issue.”