Dog walkers victims of over-zealous fines

A few more recent victims over-zealous wardens have come to light.

A lady from Wales complained that she was fined for walking in a no-dog zone, that she didn't know was a no-dog zone (there were no signs up).

She reports that the Xfor wardens 'came out of the bushes', explained it was a no-dog zone, and issued her with the fine. Her explanation cut no ice: 'They could easily have given me the benefit of the doubt as there weren’t any warning signs in place. Instead, they made me feel like a common criminal although they accept that I was more than likely a law-abiding citizen.' The wardens told her that she should have known about the no-dog zone, because 'all the information is online'. (The idea that a 64-year old woman may not be checking internet updates before she left the house, seemed not to occur.)

In another case, a man was given a fine for a dog that wasn't his. He arrived at his parents' house, and his parents' dog had escaped out the back gate and was seen fouling by a council warden, who then followed the dog back to the home. The luckless son - who was only calling by to pick up his post - was slapped with a fine for dog fouling. When he didn't pay the fine, he was convicted in a Magistrate's court and ordered to pay £515 (later reduced to £240).

In both cases, these people were fined for accidents - offences that they didn't know were offences, or even (in the case of the son) somebody else's accident. These cases eclipse the essential and traditional legal requirement of intent.

It is particularly worrying that magistrates are going along with these fines, and punishing 'offences' that would not be such under any common law or modern definition. The son was in no way responsible for the accident of the escaped dog: he was fined merely because he happened to be there at the time.

This is an archaic version of punishment - a matter of finding an offence then looking for somebody to pin it on - which should have no place in our legal system.