Today I met with PC Dave Allen – who is an officer for North Wales Rural Crime Team – to discuss the crime of livestock attacks.
We met at a local farm where a livestock attack recently took place. This was to demonstrate the impact that this crime has on the farming industry.
Livestock worrying is an offence committed by anyone who owns, or is in charge of a dog which worries livestock. The term worrying means:
• Attacking livestock;
• Chasing livestock in such a way as may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering; in the case of ewes. This includes abortion or loss or reduction in the number of offspring;
• Not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.
There have been 450 attacks on livestock by dogs in the last 4 years in North Wales alone. That is why it is important that people are made aware of the importance of responsible dog ownership.
Discussions between PC Dave Allen and I focussed on four points where reform is needed:
• Currently, only a £1,000 maximum fine can be placed on dog owners who commit this offence;
• Police cannot seize the dog that has committed the attack;
• Police cannot issue a disqualification order on the dog owner to stop them owning animals again; and
• The Home Office do not record the number of attacks that take place centrally.
I have written to the Home Secretary on these four points calling for reform to be implemented now.
As a former Police minister I understand the importance of giving the police the tools they need to tackle crime. Meeting with PC Dave Allen has demonstrated that there are a number of measures that need to be taken by the Government to help our police tackle crime.
Livestock attacks have a huge impact on our farming community and without the proper powers given to the police it will continue to cost vast amounts to our rural economy. Calling for a review of the maximum fine, the ability for police the seize the dog which caused the attack, allowing the disqualification of ownership of an animal and for the Home Office to properly record the crime would be a positive step forward and I believe it should be implemented sooner rather than later.
North Wales Police have dedicated officers who are working hard to tackle rural crime, like PC Dave Allen, and I will always work with them to ensure that we can help make our communities a safer place.