Police ‘don’t know’ about dog control laws passed almost 10 years ago – MSP

By Katrine Bussey, Political Editor, Press Association Scotland

Police officers do not all know about dog control legislation introduced by Holyrood almost a decade ago, MSPs have been told.

Christine Grahame was the backbencher responsible for the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010, which was brought in to ensure “dogs which are out of control are brought and kept under control”.

The legislation introduced Dog Control Notices – dubbed “dog Asbos” – which could require owners to take steps such as muzzling their animals in public or taking them to training classes.

Almost 10 years after the legislation was brought in, MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee are looking at it again, to see if it could  be improved.

While Ms Grahame described it as a “substantial piece of legislation”, she complained many people did not know it existed.

“Public knowledge of the legislation is a huge issue,” the SNP MSP said.

Christine Grahame believes there should be more publicity for the legislation (Scottish Parliament/PA)

She added: “Some police don’t know about the Control of Dogs Act, again not their fault, we’re back to publicity and information.

“They all know about not smoking in public places, they all know about minimum unit pricing. Why? Because it has been publicised.”

Ms Grahame told the committee: “This brings me to a bugbear of mine, that is a Member’s Bill gets no publicity other than what the member will provide.

“So unless you pay it out of your own allowances, nobody gets to know about it.”

She  called for the Scottish Government to do more to promote Members’ Bills at Holyrood once they have been passed into law – describing this as a “huge issue for all Members’ Bills”.

“There’s publicity so that the neighbour or the person walking their child to school who sees this knows how to report it.”

Speaking following the committee session, Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham said: “We’re committed to more effective control of dogs in Scotland’s communities, and one dog attack is one too many.

“Responsible dog ownership is at the heart of Scottish Government policy in this area, with effective enforcement of existing legislation critical in improving public safety.‎

“That is why we made sure responsibilities between local authorities and the police were clarified through a new protocol.

“We expect councils to use the powers at their disposal under the legislation.

“We will also consult this year on establishing a new database for holding details of out of control dogs.

“We welcome Parliament’s scrutiny and will consider carefully further ideas for reform, focused on strengthening the dog control regime to reduce the number of dog attacks and improve safety in communities.”