Friday, 17 May 2013

Dangerous Dog Act - Amendments Planned

The government has published proposed amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 - the amendments are now underway; if passed as law, these amendments will affect not only the prohibited dogs but all breeds and types of dog in England and Wales.
The draft Dangerous Dogs (DD) Amendment Bill was recently published by Defra, shortly afterwards the EFRA committee launched a two week inquiry to invite written evidence followed by oral evidence specifically on the proposed Bill; they received 86 written responses.

The draft DD Amendment Bill was expected to be in the Queen’s speech on 8th May (meaning it will be one of several bills addressed in the next parliamentary session), but, it was not.

The proposed changes had appeared, without explanation within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing (ASCP) Bill which is a Home Office bill and was included in the Queen’s speech; on the government’s legislative agenda - it is now underway to become an Act – new legislation, which is far reaching, for all dogs and their owners.

The planned amendments to the DDA were published in the ASCP bill before EFRA had published its written report on the evidence it received. Previously the Home Affairs Committee had held an inquiry into this bill ending in January but this was before the amendments from the draft DDA bill were placed into this bill.

So in a nutshell;

·         an Inquiry ending in January 2013 was previously held into the ASCP Bill but at the time the DDA Amendments were not included in the bill

·         a draft Dangerous Dogs Amendment Bill was published by Defra on 9th April

·         a separate inquiry was held by the EFRA Committee - with a deadline of 22nd April

·         the Queen’s speech on 8th May included the ASCP Bill

·         the Government went ahead and placed the amendments within the ASCP Bill which was published on the 9th May

·         the EFRA committee published its report on 16th May on the pre-legislative inquiry it just held but the Amendments were already published

The ASCP Bill is now in progress – this is a large detailed bill where a relatively small portion relates to dogs - it could easily slip past undetected unless you were actually looking for it.

To follow the progress of the Bill click here - you will see that the second reading is due in the Commons on the 10th June 2013

You can read the Bill online here - Part 7 - specifically relates to ‘Dangerous Dogs’ – keeping dogs under proper control and whether a dog is a danger to public safety.

The text from the original draft DDA Amendment Bill has been changed as it’s moved from bill to bill – in reference to the ‘Householder defence’ – there is no longer the need for the owner to be present at the time of an incident in a building that is a dwelling (ie your home) - but this defence applies to the building only, not the garden etc. So presumably if a burglar is in your garden and your dog injures him or there are reasonable grounds your dog might - you are on the wrong side of the law.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Bill also contains the new provisions of Public Spaces Protection Orders and Community Protection Notices are also included in this Bill.

Currently we have Dog Control Orders which are to be repealed and replaced with Public Spaces Protection Orders. PSPO's – these will also be made by local authorities but not parish councils. There’s no limit to what a PSPO can command and they can remain for up to three years.

Community Protection Notice (CPN) will be issued by the police and local authorities, this is a new power for when there is ‘conduct of a persistent or continuing nature’. The CPN specify requirements to do specified things, cease doing specified things or to take reasonable steps to achieve specified results.