NO penalty notices were issued over dog fouling in Christchurch last year- despite dozens of reports to the council.

The issue was raised as part of a discussion about policy changes at Christchurch Council's scrutiny and policy overview committee last week.

The committee recommended the policy to community committee, with plans for a reduced fixed penalty notice of £50 if paid within seven days of being issued.

Fines are currently £75 and have to be paid within 14 days.

When asked by councillors about the lack of penalty notices issued, Sean Whitney, public health and protection manager for Christchurch and East Dorset Councils, said: “It’s not a huge number (of reports), but then we are quite proactive at patrolling the known dog walking areas and what’s not recorded necessarily is the anecdotal comment that we might get when we’re out patrolling as to areas which are perhaps bad.

“The message is becoming more well known and other dog walkers are becoming far less accepting of those dog walkers that potentially give them a bad name, and potentially impose further controls and restrictions.

“I think they do tend to be a bit of a self-policing community."

Mr Whitney said the policy before members was to accommodate legislative changes and reflect on operational practices.

From October 2017, dog control orders will become public space protection orders (PSPO).

Similar policies due to be discussed in the future will focus on dogs off the lead and dog exclusion areas, such as children’s play areas.

At the meeting, Cllr Paul Hilliard asked if officers have cameras on their person when doing patrols.

“We have considered going down that particular route and it’s something which is under review all the time,” Mr Whitney said.

“At the moment it’s consider that it’s not necessary in the vast majority of cases so we chose not to go down that route because it does create other difficulties and compliance issues we have to abide by.”

The policy is scheduled to go before Christchurch Borough Council’s community committee in October.