OWNERS of dangerous dogs that harm others could face jail after judges received new guidelines this week encouraging them to be tougher.
The most serious offences will attract sentences of 18 months. It comes after a sharp rise in the number of convictions for dangerous dog offences in the past 10 years.
Ealing MPs Angie Bray and Steve Pound lobbied the government after a series of attacks in the borough about 18 months ago. The most serious saw a puppy mauled to death and a 59-year-old man badly bitten, both in Walpole Park.
After the announcement by the Sentencing Council on Tuesday, Ms Bray said: “This is an important step forward, recognising that a lot of people want to see much stiffer penalties for people who menace their communities with dangerous dogs.
“But we also need more antisocial behaviour orders to tackle those who hang around in public spaces in an intimidating fashion.”
The new guidelines mean more offenders will face jail sentences, more will get community orders and fewer will receive discharges. Training a dog to fight will be an aggravating factor.
They cover the most common offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, such as allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control causing injury, and possession of a prohibited dog.
Irresponsible owners who put the public at risk can be banned from keeping dogs. Genuinely dangerous dogs can be put down and compensation paid to victims.
But where someone deliberately sets a dog on another person the offender is likely to be charged with assault. The changes will come into effect in August.