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Islington to launch Britain's biggest dedicated dog poo squad

PUBLISHED: 06:01 15 March 2012

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment, in Highbury Fields. He says there will be a

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment, in Highbury Fields. He says there will be a "zero tolerance" policy on dog mess

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

Britain's largest dedicated dog mess team is to be launched by Islington Council to carry out a three month blitz on anti-social owners.

The 22-man “dog squad” will seek to catch people who do not clean up after their pets and hit them with £80 on-the-spot fines.

The team will mount covert plain clothes operations and patrol the streets Monday to Sunday from 6am to 10pm.

Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “We’re having a zero tolerance policy towards dog mess and this will be the biggest squad of its type anywhere in the country.

“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.”

The scheme will cost £240,000 and launches in May for 12 weeks, but it could be extended. The council will urge residents to inform on offenders using a special “Shop a Dropper” hotline.

They will also be asked to identify the worst areas, while an initial list of the top five hotspots names Halliford Street, Thornhill Crescent, and Arundel Square in Islington, Hornsey Rise Gardens in Hornsey Rise, and Roman Way in Holloway.

A 34-year-old Arundel Square resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I won’t go on the grass any more because it has become a big toilet and it’s hideous.

“It should be a bigger fine. If it was £1,000 then maybe people would think twice.”

The council says it will take a hard-line approach with those who do not pay the fines by pursuing them through the courts.

Caroline Russell, chairman of pedestrian group Islington Living Streets, said: “Dog mess is a huge problem. But it is an awful lot of money – I’m not sure we need the biggest dog team in Britain.”

Islington Council issued just 58 dog fouling fines over the past 12 months, but currently has no dedicated officers. It hopes to recover much of the £240,000 outlay through fines, but would need to hand out 1,000 each month to completely cover costs. The initiative would cost nearly £1million if it ran for a year.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrats group, said: “This crackdown is welcome and well overdue, but how sustainable is it going to be in the present economic climate?”

Dog owner Chris Ford, 61, of Archway, said: “I think it’s a great idea and anyone who gets fined deserves it. But more bins would be better.”

The proposal is expected to be rubber-stamped by the council’s executive on March 27.

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