SCOTLAND’S first privatised dog poo patrollers start work this month – and they will be allowed to keep the fines they dish out.
Scottish Borders has brought in private enforcement firm 3GS to crackdown on irresponsible dog owners who let their pets foul the streets.
The year-long trial will not cost the council a penny as 3GS will hold on to every penny of the £80 fines.
The council believes its approach will prove far more effective in persuading dog owners to clean up after their pets.
But the firm, based in Basingstoke, Hants, have been accused elsewhere in the UK of dishing out some fines unfairly.
The 3GS wardens, who are paid around £17,000-a-year and use body-mounted cameras while on duty, will also have the power to impose £80 fines for littering.
A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed: “The aim is for the two enforcement officers to be in post by the end of this month.
“All income received from dog fouling and littering fines during this period will be retained by 3GS as part of the initial agreement.
“If the 12-month pilot is a success, the Council would take forward a formal tender process to continue with the enforcement officers.”
SBC insist the move is aimed at “those not willing to listen”.
Councillor David Paterson, SBC’s executive member for environmental services, said: “While we are keen to educate owners about the issue of dog fouling, the considerable feedback received from the public, communities and councillors has indicated that enforcement is also crucial.
“We are carrying out a number of positive educational activities including the green dog walkers scheme, but for those not willing to listen, they face an £80 fine or potential court appearance.”
The enforcement officer role includes operating and downloading body cameras, issuing PFN’s as required and preparing and submitting witness statements.
They will also be required to attend court to give evidence as necessary and also participating in delivering educational awareness within the local community.
They role also requires that enforcers deal with “people from all backgrounds in a calm and assertive manner with the ability to deal professionally and diplomatically”.
Torbay, Devon, took on 3GS in September last year to enforce dog fouling laws and the firm imposed 72 fines in the first three weeks. Last month, 3GS started operating in Northampton and dished out 70 fines in their first week, totalling £5,600.
The firm has been accused of operating unfairly in some cases.
Brighton woman Anna Haigh claims she was hit with a £75 fine by 3GS after accidentally dropping a cigarette butt. She claimed: “Apparently my cigarette hit the side of the ash tray/ bin and hit the floor. I can’t prove that that happened, for all I know my butt went in the ash tray with no problem.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Fines should only be used as a last resort and those who allow their dogs to foul, deserve to have the book thrown at them.
“Concerns may well be raised about how a private company will enforce fines. However, such penalties wouldn’t have to be used at all – if people were more considerate and picked up after their dogs.”
3GS managing director Paul Buttivant said the pilot followed “significant pressure from residents concerned about the escalating problems created by environmental crime, in particular dog fouling and litter”.
He added: “Our officers are highly trained and will only issue fixed penalty notices to individuals who have chose not to observe the law.”
Earlier this year it was revealed another Scottish council area were taking drastic new measures to claw back dog fouling fines.
Dundee City Council revealed their plans to freeze the bank accounts of offenders in a legal move known as arrestment which can only be reversed once the fine is paid.