Government Plans Could Have Gone Further, Experts Warn
By Rob Dixon
Legal experts representing people who have been injured in dog attacks have revealed their concerns that the Government has ‘missed an opportunity’ to ensure victims are able to get vital support they often need following such incidents.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has today (February 6th) announced new plans which will see all dogs in England microchipped from April 6th 2016, as part of an effort to promote responsible dog ownership.
Other measures revealed include the extension of existing legislation in relation to dog attacks to cover private property. Previously, dog owners whose pets have attacked people on their property have been immune from any prosecution.
According to figures from the Government, 3,000 postal workers have been attacked by out-of-control dogs in the past 12 months, with 70 per cent of attacks happening on private property.
Irwin Mitchell represents people who have suffered serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of dog attacks, helping them to gain justice in relation to such incidents.
The national law firm’s expert lawyers have broadly welcomed the new measures, but warning that more could – and should – have been to provide better protection to victims of dog attacks.
David Urpeth, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in such cases, said: “We have campaigned for a number of years for better protection to be provided to the public in relation to dog attacks and plans to extend protection to cover incidents on private property is a major step forward.
“Compulsory microchipping should also help in the identification of dangerous dogs, as well as to ensure that irresponsible owners whose negligence has led to attacks can be found and held to account.
“However, we still have long-held concerns that the Government is missing an opportunity and failing to provide more comprehensive support for dog attack victims by not considering the introduction of compulsory insurance for owners.
“Such a move would have ensured that victims left seriously injured in attacks would have been able to get access to vital funds which would have allowed them to get vital rehabilitation and support.”