Tough dog sentences backed

Shirley and Michael Anderson, the parents of Jade Anderson
Shirley and Michael Anderson, the parents of Jade Anderson
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THE stepdad of tragic teenager Jade Lomas-Anderson has given his support to proposals for tough sentences for irresponsible dog owners.

Michael Anderson said only the clear threat of strict sentences and long spells in prison for those who dogs are out of control in public or injure and even kill people would act as an effective deterrent.

Jade Anderson

Jade Anderson

The Sentencing Council has now proposed new guidelines allowing courts to ban irresponsible people from keeping dogs and order compensation to be paid to attack victims.

The council wants those who train dogs to be aggressive and intimidating or use them as a weapon to face the toughest penalties, following a sharp increase in the maximum prison sentences in cases where dogs fatally attack someone last year.

Mr Anderson, whose stepdaughter Jade was just 14 when she was killed by a pack of dogs at a house in Atherton in March 2013, said the guidelines were welcome but courts needed to ensure they give out consistent penalties.

Mr Anderson said: “It’s all about giving the correct sentences out. Small sentences or slaps on the wrist don’t send out a signal.

It’s all about giving the correct sentences out. Small sentences or slaps on the wrist don’t send out a signal

Michael Anderson

“There needs to be proper sentencing, not one for one thing and then something very different in another case.”

However, Mr Anderson also said there needs to be more focus on enforcement to ensure people are made to comply with the courts’ decisions and criticised the complexity of legislation dealing with incidents involving dogs.

He said: “We’ve got to look at what happens after sentencing. If a person is banned from keeping animals and has them I want to know what is going on. Without enforcement there’s just no point.

“I also think the laws should all be in one place, there’s too many little avenues and things in different places.

“I know anti-social behaviour is involved but it’s primarily about dogs and it should have its own legislation.”

The Sentencing Council’s proposed guidelines are out for public consultation until June 9.