THE number of people prosecuted for letting their dogs foul in public is continuing to drop, latest figures have revealed.
Opposition councillors have criticised the stance being taken by Northumberland County Council which shows that just 14 people were prosecuted in 2012, despite the number of complaints being on the increase.
Figures released by the Labour Party show that there were 1,204 complaints to the council by residents about the amount of dog dirt on pavements or open spaces.
Group leader Coun Grant Davey said: “Dog fouling reports are certainly on the increase.
“Councillors have had complaints at the south east area committee from residents living near Cowpen cemetery and mourners about the number of dogs off the lead.
“Local footballers are often exposed and children playing on grassed areas can also pick up toxocariasis when they should be out enjoying themselves.”
But council leader Jeff Reid said the council is tackling the problem, and in 2011-12 nine fixed penalty notices (FPN) were issued with two enforcements placed by magistrates.
He added: “The approach adopted by the public protection service has been to try and educate irresponsible dog owners and to deal with first time offenders by issuing a fixed penalty notice.
“The use of FPNs is recognised as best practice and is an efficient and effective use of our resources, which allows us to deal with the problem there and then on the street.
“During last summer we ran the successful ‘Don’t Stand For It’ campaign to raise awareness across Northumberland regarding this serious public health issue.
“The council also hands out 400,000 free ‘poop’ bags a year to responsible dog owners.”