by PC Dave Allen, Rural Crime Officer
NORTH Wales Police were one of the first Police forces in the UK to set‐up a dedicated Rural Crime Team with the task of investigating agricultural and Wildlife issues in the six Welsh counties we serve.
The team has been operating since September 2 0 1 3 and it very soon became apparent that livestock attacks by dogs was a major and often under reported concern to our agricultural community.
Yet, the true scale of the livestock attacks is not known, as the Home Office do not require the Police in England and
Wales to record official figures. However, here in North Wales the Rural Crime Team voluntary record the number of attacks and so far since September 2 0 1 3 there have been just under 6 0 0 attacks with 1 2 4 reported since January 1 2019.
Livestock attacks are dealt with under an old act, The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1 9 5 3 . Here are some other issues with that act:
• Limited animals are covered by the act.
• Local authorities (Dog wardens) cannot prosecute. It is a Police only matter.
• Police cannot seize the dog if the owner is known
• Police can only have a warrant to enter a house to identify a dog and not seize it.
• The act is summary only. Meaning any case going to court will only ever be heard in magistrates court with its limited sentencing powers despite some attacks costing the victim thousands of pounds of loss.
However, the issue is being looked at by the Police, Government and farming sector. North Wales Police Rural Crime Team member Rob Taylor and myself have presented evidence to the All Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare in Parliament.
A new National Police Chiefs Council Livestock offences group has been set‐up with North Wales Police chairing it. The group includes UK Police, farming and Canine sector, DEFRA, Insurance companies and Welsh Government.
The issue is being looked at in detail, such as education and widening the “YOUR DOG, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY” ethos as 8 9 per cent of attacks in North Wales are by unaccompanied dogs that often escape from home.
The group are also exploring upgrading the law, such as improving the power of seizure, making it a Home Office
recordable offence and having cases being heard at Crown court. You can help by reporting any attacks to the Police, even if the offending dog is not known. As nothing will change without evidence and if you never reported it, officially it has never happened.