Public space protection orders and dog walking; everything professional dog walkers need to know

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Lots of councils in the UK now have public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place and many of these have dog control orders (DOCs) or dog fouling orders (DFOs) as part of them. Knowing if your council has one, where they are applicable and what the penalties are if you break them is important for your business’s reputation and keeping yourself on the right side of the law. To make sure you know the facts, read on.

History of Public Space Protection Orders in the UK

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced in the UK as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. PSPOs are designed to protect public spaces from behaviours that have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of local residents. They give local authorities the power to prohibit certain behaviours in specific areas and to enforce those prohibitions with fines or other penalties.

The introduction of PSPOs was motivated by concerns about anti-social behaviour, such as drinking alcohol in public, dog fouling, begging, and rough sleeping. These behaviours were seen as having a negative impact on the community and were perceived as a threat to public order. The aim of PSPOs is to create safe and pleasant public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

PSPOs were first piloted in three local authorities in England in 2014. Following the success of these pilots, the government rolled out the scheme nationwide in 2015.

PSPOs have since become a popular tool for local authorities to tackle anti-social behaviour. However, they have also been criticized by some for being overly broad and potentially infringing on individual liberties.

One of the key criticisms of PSPOs is that they can be used to criminalize behaviours that are not inherently harmful. For example, some local authorities have used PSPOs to prohibit busking or political protests in certain areas.

Critics argue that these prohibitions go beyond what is necessary to protect public spaces and infringe on the right to freedom of expression.

How do PSPOs affect professional dog walkers?

Types of PSPOs

There are several different types of PSPOs that can affect dogs in the UK. These PSPOs are designed to promote responsible dog ownership and to address issues such as dog fouling and aggressive behaviour.

One common type of PSPO that affects dogs is the dog control order (DCO).

DCOs can be used to require dogs to be kept on a lead in certain areas, such as public parks or nature reserves. DCOs can also be used to prohibit dogs from entering certain areas altogether, such as children’s play areas or cemeteries.

Another type of PSPO that affects dogs is the dog fouling order (DFO).

DFOs can be used to require dog owners to clean up after their pets and to dispose of dog waste in a responsible manner. Failure to comply with a DFO can result in a fine.

In addition to DCOs and DFOs, some local authorities have also introduced PSPOs to address issues such as dog noise and aggressive behaviour. These PSPOs can require dog owners to take steps to prevent their dogs from barking excessively or behaving aggressively towards people or other animals.

It is important to note that PSPOs must be based on evidence of a problem and must be proportionate to the issues being addressed. Additionally, PSPOs must not infringe on the rights of responsible dog owners or restrict the ability of dogs to exercise and socialize in a safe and responsible manner.

Areas covered by PSPOs

PSPOs can cover a wide range of public spaces, including parks, town centres, and other areas that are accessible to the public. PSPOs can be applied to any public space, regardless of whether it is owned by the council or by a private individual or organization.

This is an important point as many people mistakenly believe the PSPO only applies to council owner parks and land. So no matter where you choose to walk, whether it’s an enclosed field for dog walking, a council-run park, or a quiet space to walk a reactive dog, the rules still apply.

PSPO penalties

The penalties for breaking a PSPO can vary depending on the specific provisions of the order and the local authority that has issued it. Generally, the penalties for violating a PSPO are intended to be proportionate to the behaviour being targeted and are designed to discourage future violations.

In most cases, the penalty for violating a PSPO is a fixed penalty notice (FPN), which is similar to a fine. The amount of the FPN can vary depending on the nature of the offence and the local authority that has issued the PSPO. In some cases, the FPN may be set at a relatively low amount, such as £50, while in other cases it may be significantly higher, such as £100 or more.

In addition to a fine, violating a PSPO can also result in other consequences, such as a criminal record or community service. Repeat offenders may face more severe penalties, including the possibility of prosecution and a criminal conviction.

It is important to note that PSPOs must be enforced fairly and proportionately and that individuals who are accused of violating a PSPO have the right to appeal the decision or to challenge the PSPO in court.

If you have been accused of violating a PSPO, or if you believe that a PSPO is unfairly restricting your rights or the rights of others, you may wish to seek legal advice or to contact a local advocacy group or civil liberties organization for support.


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