Dog attacks prompt calls for reforms

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DOZENS of Wigan postmen and women have been subjected to animal attacks over the last three years, shock new figures reveal.

More than 70 incidents were recorded for Royal Mail delivery staff serving the borough since 2010.

Although the statistics show a steady decline year on year, the total has prompted fresh calls for a reform of dangerous dog laws.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said: “Unfortunately, animal attacks are a hazard faced by our postmen and women every working day.

“These attacks cause great distress and in too many cases serious injuries.

“Our main aim is to prevent attacks, if we feel that there is a risk at an individual address, we are committed to working with the customer to agree simple steps to ensure that we can deliver the mail safely.

“We regularly communicate with our people about the dangers of dog attacks and provide advice to our postmen and women on techniques to minimise harm in the event of an attack.

The figures show that the number of attacks has more than halved over the last three years with 35 in 2010, 28 in 2011 and just 16 last year.

Further statistics released by the Communications Workers Union (CWU), which covers Royal Mail staff, stated the vast majority of attacks on postal workers were from dogs – with 23,000 workers attacked in the last five years.

Current legislation can only lead to prosecution against the owners of dangerous dogs if attacks occur on public property, an issue that has become prominent in recent months following the tragic death of Atherton school girl Jade Anderson who was mauled by four dogs.

A CWU spokesman said: “70 per cent of the attacks against our members are on private property, where the law does not apply in England and Wales.

“This is something that needs urgent action.

“Much more needs to be done by Westminster to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, Scotland and Northern Ireland have led the way.”

Last week ministers published a draft amendment bill recommending the law to be extended to include private property.

CWU general secretary, Billy Hayes, said: “We welcome the publication of the draft clauses to extend the law to private property - which is a long-standing loophole leaving thousands of dog attack victims without recourse in law - there is still no timetable for the implementation of this change.

“The government is showing little urgency in bringing these legal changes forward. For every day of delay, 12 postal workers are being attacked and we have now seen 15 people killed by dogs in recent years. Chance cannot come soon enough.”

Royal Mail officials are also pushing for stricter laws against the owners of dangerous animals following an independent inquiry in November that called for the welfare of postal workers to be included in any future legislation.

Royal Mail chairman Donald Brydon, CBE, said: “Attacks cause injuries and terrible trauma to our staff.

“Nobody should have to endure this and our staff are at an increased risk of such attacks because of the job they do.

“We welcome the findings of the independent report, especially the call for urgent reforms.

“We have also taken on board the recommendations that Royal Mail should take a more robust approach with customers whose dogs attack postmen and women.”