Fife Council is set to clampdown on irresponsible dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
The local authority plans to treble the number of staff who have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for dog fouling offences, which will soon increase the number of officers to 32.
And with the Scottish Parliament having this month introduced the Dog Fouling (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Order 2016 , it has doubled the fixed penalty for the offence from £40 to £80 to bring it in line with a litter fine.
The legislation follows a Scottish Government consultation on responsible dog ownership which received an overwhelming response in favour of the move after nearly a third of people said in the 2013 and 2014 Scottish Household Surveys that animal nuisance – dog fouling or animal noise – was a common problem.
The move will no doubt bolster efforts to tackle the dog fouling issue.
Mark McCall, Fife Council’s service manager for safer communities, said the aim was not only to catch owners who do not clean up after their dogs but also to provide a visible presence to deter the behaviour.
“We undertake high visibility foot patrols in a variety of areas known for high levels of dog fouling and utilised our CCTV van to undertake surveillance in an attempt to catch perpetrators,” he said.
But with officers needing to catch offenders in the act, Mr McCall admits it’s as much about changing the culture of dog fouling as it is about issuing fines.
“Educational inputs were given to a number of schools and community groups to highlight the financial penalty and also the public health risks associated with dog fouling,” he said.
In 2014/15 less than half of those issued fixed penalty notices – just 21 of the 45 issued – paid the fine, while that figure fell further to less than 30 per cent –10 of the 32 issued – for the same period in the next year.
Unpaid fines are usually referred to the Procurator Fiscal.