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Tougher sentencing for dangerous dog offences

Pet owners convicted of dangerous dogs offences within England and Wales will face tougher punishments under new sentencing guidelines.

The Sentencing Council has published new guidelines for how courts should sentence people convicted of dangerous dog offences. This covers offences where a dog injures or kills a person, where it injures an assistance dog or where an individual possesses a banned breed of dog.

In 2014 the law was extended to cover attacks that occur on private property and introduced a new offence to cover attacks on assistance dogs.

The legislation also made very significant increases to some maximum sentences. For example, the maximum sentence for an offence where someone is killed increased from two to 14 years and for where someone is injured from two to five years.

District Judge Richard Williams, a member of the Sentencing Council said: “The new guidelines will help ensure a consistent and proportionate approach to sentencing following the significant changes to the law. They allow for a broad range of sentences to be given, depending on the seriousness of each offence, and encourage courts where appropriate to use their other powers to ban people from keeping dogs or to order them to pay compensation to victims.”

James White, senior campaigns manager at the charity Guide Dogs said: “Sadly, every year we hear of more than 100 guide dogs being attacked by other dogs. Attacks on guide dogs are extremely distressing for their owners.

“We welcome the publication of today’s dangerous dog sentencing guidelines, which will assist courts in sentencing these difficult and distressing cases appropriately.”

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