Councils Updates Dangerous Dog Offences Sentencing

Owners convicted of dangerous dog offences will face harsher punishment when guidelines come into force in England and Wales in July.

The sentencing council has published the guidelines on how courts should sentence those convicted where a dog injuries or kills a person, injures an assistance fog or where someone possesses a banned breed.

It introduced the guidelines following dangerous dog offences legislation change in 2014, which extended the law to cover attacks on private property and introduced an offence for assistance dog attacks.

The increase in maximum sentences set by law have been reflected in the guidelines so they permit a wider range of sentence length. Sentencing levels are likely to be higher than in the past, but magistrates and judges will still have to pass appropriate and proportionate sentences according to the seriousness of the offence.

The guidelines are designed to deal with a range of offending behaviour and the blameworthiness of the offender can also vary. District judge and sentencing council member Richard Williams said: “We know the majority of dogs owners are responsible and ensure their pets do not put anyone in danger, but some cases, even death. 

“The guidelines will help ensure a consistent and proportionate approach to sentencing following the significant changes to the law. They allow for a broad range of sentences to be given and encourage courts, where appropriate, to use their other powers to ban people from keeping dogs or order them to pay compensation to victims”.