A Controlled Tyrannosaurus Rex In The House Is Safer Than An Irresponsible Owner Of A Dangerous Dog
When CWU's General Secretary said at this year's Annual Conference that the future for the Union is in it's ability to influence and change legislation for workers, he needn't 't have looked further than a couple of months; and given the past shows just how effective the CWU is in changing laws around dangerous Dogs, today was yet another trip 'Back to the Future' for the CWU's Health, Safety and Environment Department.
Once again the Head of the Union's smallest department, Dave Joyce, was giving evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee looking into the need or otherwise for further Dangerous Dogs legislation based on specific breeds. Indeed, Dave made it crystal clear that the CWU does not support the introduction of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).
Dave added that all animals can become vicious, if it has a bad owner. It is the owner that is the problem. He reminded the Committee that the CWU is pro-dog, but against irresponsible dog owners, stating that some people should not be dog-owners at all.
He said that the CWU quickly found in it's research, that post workers are attacked by any breed of dog and that the idea of BSL is unhelpful and in fact a detraction from the real issue.
Highlighting the fact that if a dog is under control and/or in another room when the post is being delivered, no attack will take place; Dave made it clear that the that it is the owner's who should be made to suffer the consequences of not controlling their dogs, where ever they are and not just in the home!
Key to this is of course appropriate legislation, applied appropriately and across the whole of the country, and not just in some areas. He detailed the police constabularies that do not prosecute at all and gave an example of two postal workers having had fingers bitten off by dogs, and yet the local police force refused to prosecute, leaving it up to Royal Mail and the CWU to ensure legal action was taken against the owner of the dog concerned.
Dave mentioned the cuts in police numbers and budgets and stated they had a decisive effect upon whether or not police forces investigate and prosecute owners of dangerous dogs, even when there is clear evidence of injury. e.g. loss of fingers, gashes in legs and face etc etc.
Furthermore of course, is the fact that there remains no compensation schemes where victims can claim financial re-dress for the often appalling injuries, and sometimes life-changing at that; since the Tory government abolished such schemes.
Dave Joyce made the point that legislation needs to be drawn up to introduce a compensation scheme for victims of dangerous dogs and ensure it is also in place across the whole of the UK. He had previously drawn the committee's attention to the fact that in Scotland, they operate a system of 2 dog attacks and you're out in terms of prosecutions and that the number of cases brought by the police under this system is abysmal.
As a result these appalling stats are only going to increase:
"82% of attacks take place between the garden gate and the front door"
"76% increase in hospital admissions due to dog bites since 2005, and 80% in Scotland since 2005"
"Now running at 7,500 hospital admissions a year as a result of dog injuries"
These are just some of the pieces of statistical evidence that Dave presented to the members of the select committee, despite the low attendance of MPs making up the committee.
The Select Committee Chair, Neil Parish (Conservative) seemed knowledgeable as to the experiences of postal workers and indeed recalled his previous work with Dave Joyce and the CWU H&S Dept which he heads. Furthermore it was clear that DAve is held in high esteem by MPs in his years of campaigning on behalf of the CWU on the issue of Dangerous Dogs.
Speaking to the press this week and giving media interviews Dave has said that he sometimes lies awake at night after speaking to victims and their families and, as he told the Select Committee today; dreads walking up one morning to a phone call telling him of a CWU member fatality due to being attacked by a dangerous dog.
Here you can watch Dave Joyce's full evidence presentation to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee:
It was very disappointing to know the list of Select Committee MPs that should have been present at the call for evidence meeting today:
* Alan Brown Scottish National Party
* Paul Flynn Labour
* John Grogan Labour
* Dr Caroline JohnsonConservative
* Kerry McCarthy Labour
* Sandy Martin Labour
* Mrs Sheryll Murray Conservative
* David Simpson Democratic Unionist Party
*Angela Smith Labour
* Julian Sturdy Conservative
You can click on the name of the MP and if you are living in their constituency, perhaps you can drop them an email and ask them why they did not attend today. It may be they had other business preventing them from attending, but it would be interesting to know why in any case.
It is further astonishing that given CWU members in the form of postal workers and BT engineers run the risk every day of being attacked by a dangerous dog in the course of going about their daily provision of public service, and that hardly a week goes by without a report of an attack somewhere in the UK; that the Union's main website has absolutely no coverage of today's high profile work by a CWU National Officer which once again sees CWU health & Safety concerns being discussed at Governmental level via the House of Commons Select Committee.
As was stated earlier, the CWU is being taken 'Back to the Future' in terms of effective lobbying, influencing and changing Health & Safety legislation.
However, most CWU Union Safety Reps and Safety officials are simply getting on with their job of protecting CWU members in the workplace and also protecting the Health and Safety of the wider public in their communities as a result!
See also: Catalogue of Dangerous Dogs Attacks that you can download from the Unionsafety E-Library Database
Source: Parliament UK website / Unionsafety