This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.
We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to increase the number of dog wardens so that irresponsible dog-owners who allow their dogs to foul the pavements and public parks can be brought to book for their anti-social behaviour.
Petition update from the council, 30 July 2012Dear Cllr Dimoldenberg,
Thank you for submitting the online petition with 103 signatures calling on the Council to 'increase the number of dog wardens so that irresponsible dog-owners who allow their dogs to foul the pavements and public parks can be brought to book for their anti-social behaviour'. I have been advised that the petition is not being presented to a future meeting of the full Council, and therefore as an online petition rather than one presented in a Full Council Meeting, in line with the Council’s established protocols, I am responding as Strategic Director.
While recognising that more education and enforcement is required to tackle the serious problem of dog fouling, I do not believe that increasing the number of animal wardens would necessarily be the best means of achieving this, even if the resources were available to do so. The animal warden is primarily employed to deliver the Council's statutory duty of investigating and collecting stray dogs and supporting Social Services Protection of Property by assisting with the collection and kennelling of pet animals – it is a specialist role, and is not a role defined as, or focussed on, enforcement.
The principal responsibility for enforcement action against dog fouling will continue to be held by the Westminster Wardens service who provide much greater coverage and utilise their networks of local contacts to identify problem areas. The animal wardens’ expertise in relation to responsible dog ownership complements this enforcement activity of the Westminster Wardens through the utilisation of joint patrols, attendance at ward panels and resident meetings and supporting education initiatives. Therefore Westminster already has significantly more Officers out in the community empowered to enforce against dog owners breaking the rules than the number of wardens the petition is calling for.
It is also worth noting that Westminster has already implemented a city-wide enforceable prohibition of dog-fouling in the streets, however, it is important to note that by the very nature of the offence it is very difficult to evidence culpability on the part of a dog owner, unless the offence is actually witnessed by a Warden. It is for this reason that we believe that the Warden’s presence in each ward represents far more effective coverage, and importantly deterrence.
It is worth noting, of course, that under current legislation those dogs deemed actually dangerous remain a matter for the Police.
In addition to continuing enforcement activity we are also clear about the importance of making it easy for dog owners to do the right thing and act responsibly – as the vast majority already do. We are currently reviewing the locations and signage on our litter bins to make it easier for dog owners to dispose of their waste responsibly. This intelligence gathering process very much relies on local knowledge and any suggestions from members and residents will be very much appreciated. As an example, the southern sections of Fernhead and Ashmore Roads have already been highlighted as particular 'hotspots' requiring concerted action. In addition we will be increasingly highlighting the issue, the importance of dog owners acting responsibly, and educating owners in how to do so, through our communications channels later in the year, post-Olympics.
Thank you again for highlighting this important issue, and I know that, as always, the Cabinet Member and I would be happy to discuss it further with you should you wish to meet.
Strategic Director for City Management