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Scottish dog fouling bill passed

LEGISLATION TO allow council officers to impose on-the-spot £40 fines on dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets was passed by the Scottish Parliament last week.

The Tory MSP Keith Harding, who introduced the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Bill, said that it would "win back Scotland’s public places".

The Scottish Executive has already backed the legislation, and pledged to launch a £100,000 advertising blitz once it comes into effect.

Currently only police officers can take action against offenders and only under the criminal law — an unwieldy process through the courts which leads to many cases being dropped because they are not considered a high priority.

The Bill, which applies to almost all public places, would create a civil offence, allowing police and local councils to issue fixed-penalty notices to those suspected of failing to clean up after their dog, and without the need for corroboration.

Mr Harding insisted that the move was not an "anti-dog" provision. "I’m a doggy person, make no bones about it," he quipped. George Reid, the Deputy Presiding Officer, prompted laughter at the beginning of the debate as he asked Mr Harding to "move the motion in his name".

But the Tory MSP went on to say that the Bill would help to challenge attitudes and change behaviour over a problem which was actually "no laughing matter". However, he fell into the old trap of citing the scourge of toxocara canis, by saying that in the worst cases it posed a health hazard, particularly to children, wheelchair users, pregnant women and the elderly.