Scottish parliament debates tougher dog safety laws

Health & Safety

CWU health, safety & environment national officer Dave Joyce has added the CWU’s voice to the growing calls for legal reform in Scotland to tighten up action on dangerous or out-of-control dogs.

Speaking the day after members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) debated the findings of a hard-hitting report into the issue, which concluded that dog control failures were a national crisis, Dave urged them to “use your powers and please act now.”

North East Scotland MSP Jenny Marra introduced the debate, with a presentation of the detailed report into the subject carried out by the Scottish parliament’s public audit committee, which she chairs.

Introducing her committee’s study, she highlighted the view it has reached that the present legislative framework is ‘not fit for purpose’ and its recommendation that ‘an urgent, comprehensive review of all dog control legislation is required’.

The committee has, she explained: “Heard evidence from victims and witnesses of dog attacks and concluded that there is still an unacceptable level of attacks.”

Legal reform is necessary in order that out-of-control and dangerous dogs can be “dealt with effectively,” while in the meantime, “immediate action” must be taken to improve enforcement of the existing powers.

“Barely a week goes by without reports of yet another tragic incident,” Ms Marra continued, demanding that the Holyrood administration make full use of the devolved powers that it has in this area of law and must “treat this issue with the high priority it deserves.”

Dave Joyce has welcomed the report and the Holyrood debate, during which most of the MSPs who spoke made mention specifically of the CWU and the problems caused to our members on duty by out-of-control dogs.

“The recommendations in the public audit committee’s report are very positive ones and it was also extremely important that the debate took place, which helps to highlight this critical issue,” says Dave.

“But the response so far of the Scottish administration as a whole has been disappointing – they seem to have kicked it down the road with the announcement of two consultations, when what is needed is action now.”

The MSP who leads on community safety, Ash Denham (Edinburgh Eastern) has agreed to our safety officer’s request for a meeting and Dave says that he will use this opportunity to “try to inject some much-needed urgency” into the administration.