COUNCIL bosses have taken a hard line against irresponsible dog owners in County Durham after giving out 50 fines last year.

In 2017, Durham County Council introduced Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to crack down on anti-social behaviour and nuisance.

This includes updated enforcement powers against people failing to pick up dog mess or allowing dogs to stray in restricted areas.

A freedom of information request from campaign group, the Manifesto Club,  contacted 347 councils in England and Wales about the use of PSPO powers.

According to the data, Durham County Council gave out 50 fines for dog control offences in 2018.

And it also prosecuted two people for offences around “allowing dogs to stray”.

Neighbourhood protection manager at Durham County Council, Ian Hoult, said PSPOs are having a real impact.

“We’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful county and it is important we all do our bit to keep it that way,” he said.

“Dog fouling not only makes our streets, parks and paths look untidy, but it poses a health risk, especially to children.”

In County Durham, anyone who breaches a PSPO risks a £100 fixed penalty notice which can be reduced to £60 if paid within ten working days.

However, if the fine is left unpaid, offenders could be taken to court and face a maximum fine of £1,000.

Mr Hoult added: “Our public space protection order replaced a dog control order that was already in place.

“It empowers us to take enforcement action against owners who do not pick up after their dogs, allow their dogs to stray, fail to put the animal on a lead when requested to do so by an authorised person and take it into certain fenced off parks.

“However, this is a very small part of how we tackle dog fouling.

“Our main focus is education, including work in schools, and engaging communities in activities such as the Big Spring Clean to encourage a sense of local pride.”

According to the Manifesto Club data, there were nearly 10,000 fines for a range of PSPOs breaches across England and Wales in 2018.

Councils can use PSPOs to ban activities such as begging, nuisance drinking and unauthorised cycling.