Stab-proof vests to protect wardens from dog owners
ENVIRONMENTAL wardens employed by a Scottish council are being forced to wear stab-proof vests after a series of violent confrontations with dog owners refusing to clean up after their pets.
Edinburgh City Council has issued the vests to wardens whose job involves issuing fixed price penalties to offenders.
Kevin Jones and Mark Bannan, senior environmental wardens at the council’s north local office, revealed the details in a BBC Radio Scotland programme to be broadcast today.
They said some wardens have been assaulted handing out the £40 fines, while others have been threatened with knives.
The wardens insisted there was no stereotype of those refusing to clean up mess and that culprits had included police officers.
Mr Jones said: “Sometimes they are actually quite accepting of it and they realise that they’ve done something wrong in not picking up the fouling after their dog has done their business. Other people can be quite aggressive.
“There have been instances where we’ve had to call the police. Those people get really het-up about it.
“I was with a colleague a few months ago issuing a ticket down in the Wardieburn area of Edinburgh and the male who was getting the fixed penalty threatened to stab me.
“This was after he’d been given the fixed penalty.”
Mr Bannan, whose office hands out an average of eight fines per day, also said staff had been assaulted.
He said failing to clean up after dogs crossed social and professional boundaries.
“You can stereotype people from time to time, but in my experience there’s people with pitbulls, rottweilers, dobermans and Staffordshires you’d think are generally going to be less likely to pick up their fouling, but it’s not always the case,” he said.
“We’ve had all ages – from professionals to local government to police there’s been instances of dog fouling. So it’s all types and all manners that are allowing their dogs to foul and not picking up.
“I would say it’s a minority, though. There’s certainly been a vast improvement.”
Mr Bannan added: “If a dog fouls and they walk away from that, and they don’t pick up immediately, as in the Act, we then approach them and fixed penalty notice them.
“It will be a £40 fixed penalty, payable within 28 days. If they don’t pay that within 28 days in then rises to £60.
“If they come to us and say ‘can we pick up please?, I’ll go and get a bag’, which is a normal excuse that we receive on a daily basis, we don’t give them that opportunity.
A council spokesman said attacks on wardens were extremely rare.
He added: “Nevertheless, we take the safety of our staff very seriously indeed and wardens have been equipped with protective clothing since the service began in 2006.”
The Scoop on Poop is on BBC Radio Scotland at 2pm today.
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