Residents, Friends of parks, police and dog walkers have told us that they are concerned about growing numbers of dog-related problems in public places, including dog fouling, unmanageable groups of dogs, and dogs in children's play areas. Whilst we know most dog owners and dog walkers behave responsibly, we need to consider taking action against those who don't.

A Public Space Protection Order is a new measure, created by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which replaces some existing legislation and introduces wider discretionary powers to deal with any particular nuisance or problem that is detrimental to the local community's quality of life.

In 2017 we consulted residents and visitors to the borough on plans to replace these Dog Control Orders, which are due to expire, with dog control Public Space Protection Orders that would cover:

  • Prohibition of dog fouling ensuring owners and walkers clear up after their dogs.
  • Dog exclusion areas such as playgrounds and enclosed/fenced play or sports areas, including multi-use games areas, basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms, bowling greens and skate parks.
  • Dogs must be put on a lead in public open spaces when directed to do so by an authorised council officer, council-appointed specialist contractor or police officer/police community support officer. This would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common, but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws.

This PSPO is being considered because we have received growing reports from park users whose dogs are being attacked by loose dogs whose owners have no control over them.

  • The maximum number of dogs that can be walked by one person in all public open spaces at any one time is four. This would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common, but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws.

This order is being considered due to concerns about the ability of dog walkers to properly manage more than four dogs at any one time and clean up after them.

Contravention of a PSPO results in the issue of a fixed penalty notice. Non-payment may result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

 

Consultation summary

The consultation ran from 24 August to 30 October 2017.

The purpose of the consultation was to obtain feedback on a revised set of proposed Dog Control Public Space Protection Orders for Merton Borough.

  • A total of 1,243 people completed the survey.
  • 77% of the respondents lived in the London Borough of Merton.
  • Dog owners, or dog-owning households, comprised 54% of the respondents.
  • 56% of respondents classed themselves as regular dog walkers.
  • Of the proposed four new PSPOs, support levels were as follows:
    • Prohibition of dog fouling/ensuring owners and walkers clear up after their dog: 98.5% in support; 1% against; 0.5% didn't know.
    • Dog exclusion areas, such as playgrounds and enclosed/fenced play or sports areas (including Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs), basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms, bowling greens and skate parks): 87% in favour; 10.5% against; 2.5% didn't know.
    • Dogs must be put on a lead in public open spaces when directed to do so by an authorised officer (this would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but not Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws): 76.5% in favour; 18.5% against;5% didn't know.
    • The maximum number of dogs that can be walked by one person in all public open spaces at any one time is four (this would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but not Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws): 70% in favour; 25.5% against; 4.5% didn't know.

The findings of this consultation will be used to support and inform recommendations on new Dog Control Public Protection Orders to be presented to the Council for its approval and adoption. This is expected to occur during the early part of 2018.

 

Frequently asked questions

What is a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)?

A PSPO is a new measure, created by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, that replaces some existing legislation and introduces wider discretionary powers to deal with any particular nuisance or problem that is detrimental to the local community’s quality of life. PSPOs seek to ensure that the law-abiding majority can use and enjoy public spaces, safe from anti-social behaviour. The Orders can be enforced by fixed penalty notices and prosecution.

Why do we need Public Space Protection Orders for dog control?

Residents and park users have told us that dog fouling, dogs off their leads, unmanageable groups of dogs, aggressive dogs and dogs in children’s play areas and on sports pitches are a concern. We also recognise that there are a minority of owners who allow their dogs to intimidate people and other animals and damage the environment. 

We are committed to tackling these issues and as such, the Council is considering making PSPOs based on the issues we hear most about from residents and invites comments and alternative suggestions in this consultation from anyone who lives, works or visits the areas concerned.

What PSPOs are we considering?

  • Prohibition of dog fouling/ensuring owners and walkers clear up after their dogs
  • Dog exclusion areas, such as playgrounds and enclosed/fenced play or sports areas (including Multi Use Games Areas, basketball and tennis courts, outdoor gyms, bowling greens and skate parks).
  • Dogs must be put on a lead in public open spaces when directed to do so by an authorised council officer, a council-appointed specialist contractor or police officer/police community support officer. This would also include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but not Wimbledon Common which has its own byelaws.
  • The maximum number of dogs that can be walked by one person in all public open spaces at any one time is four. This would include Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but not Wimbledon Common which has its own byelaws.

What will the penalty be for anyone found breaching a PSPO?

A fixed penalty notice will be issued. Non-payment may result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Who can enforce the Orders?

Authorised council officers, council-appointed contractors, police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs).

Is anyone exempt from the Orders?

The Orders will not apply to registered blind persons and their guide dogs or to dogs registered with Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs and Canine Partners for Independence, on duty police dogs and rescue dogs.

How will I know where the PSPOs apply?

Putting a dog on a lead of no more than two metres in length when directed by an authorised council officer or police officer/police community support officer will apply to all public open space across the borough, including Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws.

Dog exclusion areas will be indicated by appropriate signage.

A restriction on individuals of walking no more than four dogs at any time would also apply to any public open space in Merton, including Morden Hall Park and Mitcham Common but excluding Wimbledon Common, which has its own byelaws.

Will I be able to walk my dog in any public open space, like parks?

There are certain places, known as exclusion zones, where dogs are not allowed, such as children’s play areas and ball courts.

What does the consultation seek to do?

The consultation is aimed at balancing the interests of dog owners and non-dog owners. The consultation seeks to obtain information and opinions from local residents, park users, dog walkers and other user groups.

We want to balance the interests of those affected by the activities of dogs, bearing in mind the need for people, in particular children, to have access to dog-free areas and areas where dogs are kept under strict control, and the need for those in charge of dogs to have access to areas where they can exercise their dogs without undue restrictions.

The information we receive from the consultation will be used to help decide what the sensible approach to dog control in Merton may be.

Next steps

Once we have received the results of the consultation, we will assess comments from all parties and determine if and in what format dog control PSPOs should be made.

The proposed timetable is as follows:

Thursday 24 August – Monday 30 October, 2017

Consultation on proposed PSPOs

Late Autumn / Early Winter

Consideration of consultation responses and decision on which orders to adopt

Spring 2018

PSPOs in place

Contact us

Enforcement Team
London Borough of Merton
PO Box 82
Morden
SM4 9WA

Telephone: 020 8274 4902

leisure@merton.gov.uk