Handful of fines in first month of costly Islington dog mess crackdown

A crackdown on dog mess costing nearly �250,000 has brought just 11 fines despite Islington Council hailing it a roaring success.

The council said the “zero tolerance” three-month pilot should be self-financing when it was introduced “based on current levels of dog fouling”, yet it has issued just �880 in fines in its first five weeks.

And the Gazette has discovered the council based its assessment of the problem on vague resident surveys, including one dating back to 2008.

Cllr Paul Smith, the Labour leadership’s executive member for environment, said: “The campaign has been very successful. As long as people are doing the right thing, I don’t care if we don’t get any fines – I would rather have the streets clean and it’s making a clear difference.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback and the amount of people doing the right thing has increased. People are obviously cleaning up, based on what’s in the bins.”

He insisted the dog squad – launched in May to catch owners who don’t clean up after their pets – will now push harder for fines after an initial phase focused on awareness and education.

Another 22 fines have been handed out for other offences, such as taking animals into children’s enclosures, bringing the total to �2,640, or 1.1 per cent of the �240,000 bill nearly halfway through the 12-week scheme.

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Opposition Liberal Democrat councillor Greg Foxsmith said: “The council is spending an astronomical �80,000 a month, yet in the first month has only issued about 10 fines for fouling.

‘‘That’s cost residents nearly �8,000 a ticket while the fine means just �80 back. Residents were promised this contract would break even. Is that value for money?”

A freedom of information request by the Gazette revealed that no hard data was compiled to see if the cost really could be recouped. Instead the claim was based on three residents surveys conducted over the past four years.

Brad Pearton, technical officer for Islington Council, said: ‘‘Residents have told us it’s a problem, so we are taking action.’’