Dog fouling: CCTV may be used to prosecute dog owners in Scarva
A council in Northern Ireland has said it is prepared to use hidden cameras to prosecute people who let their dogs foul in public parks and pavements.
Banbridge District Council has erected signs warning dog owners that they may use CCTV cameras to identify persistent offenders who do not clean up the mess.
They said since they started using the scheme they have noticed a marked reduction in the number of complaints they have received about dog fouling.
The signs are in the village of Scarva.
They have been erected along a section of towpath near the old canal which is popular with walkers, cyclists and dog owners.
David Lindsay, the council's director of environmental services, denied that it is a "big brother" approach or that the council could be in breach of human rights legislation.
He said the fact that the signs have been put up means that the filming is overt, not covert.
"There'll be no-one hiding with a tree on their head. The signage alerts people that there may be CCTV cameras monitoring the area for offences.
"We believe that the very small minority of people who are being irresponsible are actually breaching the human rights of the vast majority who are law abiding, who are responsible and who want to enjoy the outdoors."
It is understood that as well as being used to record individuals, the hidden cameras will be used to identify times when offences are committed so that dog wardens can be deployed at the right time.
The council also has a harness camera which a warden can wear to record any dog fouling they see.
The maximum fine is £500, but most first offences will be dealt with by way of a £50 fixed penalty notice
A number of fixed penalty notices have already been issued on the strength of pictures gathered by the hidden cameras.