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Islington dog mess fines plummet despite £240,000 “dog squad”

PUBLISHED: 12:03 14 August 2013 | UPDATED: 14:04 14 August 2013

Cllr Paul Smith launched the dog squad last year

Cllr Paul Smith launched the dog squad last year

Archant

Town hall chiefs stand accused of making a mess of dog-fouling laws while fines for offenders continue to fall – despite splashing £240,000 on Britain’s biggest “dog squad”.

Figures obtained by the Gazette show Islington Council issued just 36 fines for dog fouling last year, down 35 per cent from three years ago despite last year launching the costly 22-man pooch police unit to catch owners.

In March last year, when the dog detectives were announced, the man behind the scheme – former executive member for environment Paul Smith – said: “If you don’t clean up after your dog, with 22 officers patrolling all hours of the day, you will get caught and you will be fined.”

But this week he denied the policy had been a flop and defended it despite the failure to catch more offenders – claiming it was “money well spent”.

With the maximum fine being £80, the most Islington will have made from fines last year is £2,880.

Henry Zarb, the Taxpayers’ Alliance coordinator for Islington, branded the project a staggering waste of money.

He said: “It’s absolutely shocking that they would perform less well having spent vastly more money. It seems extraordinary and a staggeringly inefficient way of getting things done.

“Somebody at the council isn’t doing their cost benefit analysis before they start projects like this.

“It seems like a complete waste of money and it hasn’t helped the situation. I find, as I’m sure a lot of other residents do, that dog mess still seems to often be everywhere.”

The figures show the total number of fixed penalty notices issued by Islington Council was 55 in 2010/11, 46 for 2011/12 and 36 for 2012/13 – the year the dog squad was launched in May for just 12 weeks before being discontinued.

Fines are lowered to £50 if owners pay within 10 days. Many London boroughs threaten fines of up to £1,000.

Cllr Smith said: “The dog squad was an enormous success in changing people’s behaviour. It was money well spent and we were pleased with the result.

“If people stop doing the wrong thing that’s a success. The aim isn’t necessarily to get money, it’s to have less people doing the wrong thing.”

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, executive member for sustainability, who took over from Cllr Smith after he lost his place on the executive, said: “Fixed penalty notices are just one part of what we do.

“We also focus resources into education and face-to-face encouragement with dog owners which we believe is helping to tackle and change bad behaviour.”

The top five poo hot spots are said to be Halliford Street, Thornhill Crescent, and Arundel Square in Islington, Hornsey Rise Gardens in Hornsey Rise and Roman Way in Holloway.

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