From the Guardian, July 20, 2009

THE council will debate plans to grant its staff legal powers to take action against owners of dangerous dogs.

Cllr Afzal Akram, the authority's cabinet member for enforcement, will ask councillors to support his motion calling for an investigation into the feasibility and cost of authorising staff to take enforcement action under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1992.

The move follows a shock RSPCA report earlier this year showing a huge increase in the number of reports of impromptu dog fighting, with Waltham Forest a hotspot.

It also comes just weeks after the Waltham Forest Guardian revealed that five people a week are now being treated for dog bites at Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone.

Cllr Akram said councillors are also receiving more complaints about dogs being used as weapons to intimidate people.

Cllr Akram said: “It is important that we tackle this, it is in the interests of the dogs themselves, who are mistreated to make them more malicious.

“It is also in the interests of the safety of our children, vulnerable people, and others walking the streets who are afraid – this is about taking our streets back.”

At present prosecutions are dealt with by Waltham Forest police as the council does not have the resources or power to tackle the problem, although it can take civil action.

Cllr Akram says authorising staff to prosecute irresponsible dog owners will allow the authority to employ more dog wardens.

The motion also calls for an investigation into the cost and feasibility of the council working with the police to provide an “effective” service for tackling dangerous dogs.