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Jill Headford

Posted 18 May 2012
by Jill Headford

Dangerous dogs – again

The new sentencing guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council (effective from August 2012) have been welcomed and described as a “tougher approach” by Trevor Cooper, Legal Consultant for Dogs Trust, who has said: “Dogs Trust welcomes the guidelines which will assist with the consistency of sentencing in this area. These new guidelines will encourage courts to focus on the key factors of culpability of the owner and the amount of harm to the victim. This tougher approach should serve as a stiff reminder to dog owners to keep their pets under proper control and to behave responsibly.”According to Anne Arnold, District Judge and member of the Sentencing Council: “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.

Contrary to what I implied in my last blog (Lawhorse, April 18), the guidance does apply to dog attacks where no person is injured but different guidelines apply in that case.  And, as I said before, the guidelines treat injury to another animal as well as a human as an aggravating factor which can increase the sentence in rider injury cases.  So this development will I think offer some reassurance to horse riders.  As to their effectiveness as a deterrent to letting dogs run amok – time will tell.

The offences covered by the sentencing guidance are:

  • owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place, injuring any person
  • owner or person in charge allowing a dog to be in a private place where the dog is not permitted to be, injuring any person
  • owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place
  • owner or person in charge allowing a dog to be in a private place where the dog not permitted to be which makes a person fear injury
  • possession of a prohibited dog (Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro)
  • breeding, selling, exchanging or advertising a prohibited dog

and here is a link to the full text: www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk .

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About the author

Jill Headford

Jill Headford

Partner

A partner in the firm since 1994 and an experienced Court and Tribunal advocate, Jill specialises in resolving disputes and is a member of the Property Litigation Association