Liverpool to clear up dog poo problem with new powers to fine irresponsible owners on the spot

Owners who don’t bag and bin their dog’s mess could face a £1,000 fine.

The sight of poo bags hanging on trees and fences or dog mess lying uncleared on pathways and play areas could soon be thing of the past.

Liverpool City Council has declared war on dog owners who let their pets foul in public places - and then don’t bin it.

The local authority has drafted a proposal that would see irresponsible owners fined on the spot for failing to bag and properly dispose of dog poo.

The all too familiar site of a dog poo bag hanging in a tree. Image: Anders Haukland - stock.adobe.co

The move comes after the council received 1,865 complaints regarding dog fouling between January 2020 and January 2022.

Under the new plans, owners could be handed an immediate £80 fine, rising to £1,000 if the offence goes to court.

What’s been said

Councillor Abdul Qadir, cabinet member for neighbourhood services, said: “The vast majority of owners follow the rules about picking up and binning dog mess. Unfortunately, there has been a spike in complaints in recent years and we need to take action as it’s having a real impact on people’s enjoyment of our public parks and spaces.

“The council has invested millions of pounds in upgrading our play areas in recent years and we need to ensure they are kept as clean and tidy as possible for families and their children to enjoy.”

Dog faeces is a public health issue and can cause Toxocariasis, a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites. The parasites are more likely to affect young children as they are most likely to come into contact with it.

When will dog poo fines start?

The council has launched a month-long consultation on the plan to introduce a city-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

The PSPO would mean Council Enforcement Officers, Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers would be able to issue fixed penalties not available under existing legislation.

People can read the draft PSPO on the Liverpool City Council website and have until August 1 to give their feedback. The document would then go before the council cabinet for approval.

The new legislation would apply to the whole of Liverpool, including streets, parks and open spaces.

Tackling other dog related problems

The new rules would also make it a requirement for dogs to be kept on leads in certain parts of the city, such as around park lakes and children’s play areas. During the last two years Liverpool City Council has also received 119 complaints of dogs off leads causing annoyance in cemeteries.

Liverpool City Council has also dealt with 41 complaints of dog incidents in play areas over the last two years and received eight complaints of damage and dog fouling to play equipment caused by dogs. In 2021 a play area was so badly contaminated with dog fouling that it had to be shut for a deep clean.

Merseyside Police has also recorded 570 crimes in relation to dogs that have been dangerously out of control across the city in the past three years, demonstrating the importance of safe spaces for people and children to play and exercise.

Councillor Abdul Qadir, added:Dogs not on leads in public spaces has also become a concern, as our colleagues in Merseyside Police can testify and we’ve had too many reports of deaths to wildlife in our parks to just sit here and do nothing.

“This new draft PSPO provides clarity on what is and what is not permissible and provides the tools to take swift action to penalise those who flout the rules.

“I am sure responsible dog owners will welcome these proposals and I hope as many people as possible give their feedback to ensure these new regulations are targeting the right areas.”