A SENIOR police officer has stressed the need for a co-ordinated approach to dangerous dogs amid pressure on resources and rising public concern.
Official figures show 722 offences were recorded under the Dangerous Dogs Act in West Yorkshire during the first nine months of 2016 – only 130 fewer than the total for the whole of 2014 and 2015 combined.
They include the fatal attack on 52-year-old David Ellam in Huddersfield last summer, over which a 29-year-old man was charged last week.
But at the same time as incidents rose, the number of banned dogs being seized steadily fell.
Speaking ahead of a West Yorkshire Police conference on the issue yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: “The issue of dogs acting in a dangerous or anti-social manner has been of rising public concern.
“At a time where significant financial cuts continue to impact the public sector, we feel it is important to highlight this issue and continue improving co-operation across all agencies.”
Among those in attendance were representatives from local authorities, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, which is campaigning to end breed specific legislation.
The charity has argued it not only fails to protect public safety, but has also resulted in the suffering and destruction of hundreds of dogs deemed dangerous because of they look.
Mr Milsom said: “We are aware there are differing opinions regarding the seizure of dogs and the effectiveness of the legislation, which is why it is important to bring together practitioners to discuss their work. It should be borne in mind that the impact of a dog attack can have a serious physical and mental lifelong impact on a person.”
Figures presented to the conference revealed 404 people in West Yorkshire were admitted to hospital with dog bites between March 2015 and January 2016.
Separate police data showed 430 suspected Pit Bull Terriers were seized in West Yorkshire between January 2014 and September 2016. Of those, 60 per cent were put down or returned to their owner with conditions.
Mr Milsom said: “Dogs seized by the police fall largely within two categories; those that are seized due to their actions and those that are suspected of being a prohibited type.
“Hosting today’s seminar is important in allowing partner agencies to showcase good practice and share information as to how the changes in legislation in recent years can be used to manage dangerous dogs.”